Thursday, July 15

David Wright: Under The Radar Superstar

May was not kind to David Wright. His hitting went in the tank and struck out over a third of the time at the plate. With the Mets wobbling around .500 and Wright looking worse and worse at the plate, many began to wonder if the beaning he took to the head at the end of last year had done some permanent damage. Others wondered if the tinkering of his swing was the cause of the problems. Last year Wright only hit 10 home runs, the lowest total of his career and that includes the 2004 season when he only played in 69 games. In the offseason Wright focused on getting his power back but early this season in April and May he couldn't hit the ball.

Once he got to June his hitting took off and even after a mini-dip before the All-Star break Wright is batting .314 with a .924 OPS. He is tied for the NL lead in RBIs and has 14 home runs already this year. One thing that has been consistent this year and throughout his time in New York is that David always faces the media and answers the questions, whether he or the team is struggling.

Wright is the Derek Jeter of the Mets. What I mean by that is that he is the superstar symbol of the team. In the New York area Jeter has his Ford Edge commercials and Wright has his Lincoln commericials (and that ad with The Situation). The Jets have Sanchez, Giants have Eli, Yankees Jeter, and the Mets Wright. Nationally, Wright is the least talked about. He does the ads (even a Sportscenter one) , made the All-Star team for the 5th straight time, hell he even threw Joe Buck a bone and went on his show. He does everything you want in a superstar. Yet that is not always enough to garner attention. Sanchez has more hype and all he did was throw 20 interceptions and a few TE drags in the playoffs and people are hailing him as the next sliced bread of New York.

That might be how Wright wants it, but it is how the media portrays it. As I mentioned he does the commercials, the charity work (he has a batting average charity bet with Jeter in fact), he has the clean cut image, but outside of New York he is just known as a superstar and nothing more. He has helped foster a culture of commaraderi in the clubhouse with the help of teammates like Jeff Francoeur. Wright even took charge when he saw his left infield partner Jose Reyes was too hobbled to continue last weekend against Atlanta. Wright took the initiative and had Reyes taken from the game. After the game Wright was incredulous as to why Reyes was out there and the training staff did not take charge of the situation. The Mets trainers and doctors have not had a good track record lately, just ask Carlos Beltran's knee.

Wright makes a little over $10 million this year, and is slated for $14, $15, and $16 million over the next three years. A hefty sum but one you would expect for the most constant star on a big market team. The Mets are only 4 games back in the NL East, a position no one thought they would be in. They accomplished this without Carlos Beltran and with the disapointing performance of Jason Bay. It is likely the Mets will fade out of the race, but the known entity is the quiet tenacity of David Wright.

photo via NY Daily News

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