A preview of the 2008 Mets, presented in the expected batting order, followed by pitching rotation, followed by impact bullpen/bench players. Today we focus on third baseman David Wright.
2007: .325 avg, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 113 runs, 34 SB, .416 OBP
There's not much to say about David Wright. He's what the Mets have needed for a long time - a homegrown product who is equal parts role model, model citizen, and excellent ballplayer. His numbers speak for themselves - and when you consider he got off to a pretty slow start power-wise last season, and still finished with 30 homers, you get an idea of how well he's playing at this stage of his career. So instead of focusing on him in the 2008 season, because he's an automatic at this point, I'm going to look at David Wright in terms of his career, and one potential record that I think is in his grasp, as he enters his fourth full season in the majors.
If you read regularly, you probably know where I'm going with this...I stand by my argument that by the end of his career, David Wright will have made a run at the all-time doubles record. Tris Speaker holds the record, with 792. I'm going to look at Wright in comparison to Craig Biggio, who finished his career last year number 5 on the list, with 668. (I also plan sometime on writing an argument about whether or not Craig Biggio is a Hall of Famer.) That parenthetical note leads to this interesting bit - of the top 20 players on the all-time doubles list, 15 are Hall of Famers. And the ones who are not are Biggio, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds (when he hit doubles instead of homers), Rafael Palmeiro, and Luis Gonzalez.
David Wright has been consistent with his doubles in his career so far. He has 141 in three-and-a-half seasons. He hit 17 in 69 games his rookie year, then 42, 40, and 42. (The Mets team record is 44, held by Bernard Gilkey in 1996.) Counting 2004, that's an average of 35 a year. Speaker's numbers average out to about 37 doubles a year. For Biggio, it was an average of 33 a year over 20 seasons. So Wright is right on target.
And it's not like this is something that's going to go away as he gets older - you'd have to think he'll get more doubles as he gets older, not less, because some of the balls he hits that might have left the ballpark might become doubles off the wall instead of going over the wall. Not to mention the fact that he has a long way to go before he gets older.
For the record, Biggio's season-high for doubles was 56. Speaker's was 59. If Wright mixes one of those in, he'll spike his average a lot higher. The single-season record for doubles is 67, achieved by Earl Webb in 1931.
David Wright has good power, he steals bases, he improves every year as a defender - he helps the team in a number of ways. And he has the potential to be an all-time great. But there's really nothing on his resume that stands out in a record-setting way....except for the two-baggers.
So while you're following the Mets' successes this year as a team, and the great home run individual performances, I'll continue to watch David Wright's pursuit of the team doubles record, one hurdle on his way as he continues his assault on the all-time list.