Fan reaction: Wright’s been wronged by the Mets

No one can be sure the direction a baseball season is going to turn, unless you happen to be playing in Pittsburgh or Kansas City. But regardless of the mildly quick start, I'm fairly confident the New York Mets will match most prognosticators' predictions for a sub-.500 season, and that's a shame for one ball player above all others…David Wright(notes).

There's only a few model baseball players in recent major league history, and two of them play in New York. Derek Jeter(notes) is one. David Wright is another. You'll never see Wright running less than full speed on a ground ball. He plays every game as if it's his last, whether he's at full strength or not. He's a model citizen, never in any kind of trouble with the law, never makes headlines for unbecoming activities or comments, and never speaks unkindly about a teammate, coach, manager, or owner. Let's mix in that he's one heck of a baseball player.

David Wright
Wikimedia Commons

But he has the ignominious distinction of playing for the New York Mets in one of their many disappointing eras. Worse, he was deified by the organization when he graduated from the minor leagues to the big time. Hence, he also has the unreasonable burden of expectation cast on him by others. He bears the weight of many recent Met failures by virtue of the reputation he was given. This is not unusual in Met history. The team has heralded, glorified and overvalued many of their stars in waiting through the years, only to watch them disintegrate when the stage lights turn bright. Remember Bill Pulsipher? Paul Wilson? Carlos Gomez? Pretty soon, I think we'll be asking if we remember Fernando Martinez(notes)?

Wright was different, though. He was proficient enough to be a very good major leaguer, just not the superstar the Mets ebulliently proclaimed. While his numbers are quite distinctive, he is decidedly streaky, not the hallmark of a superstar. In his six full seasons with the Mets, he's had more than 100 RBI five times. His .304 career batting average is magnificent and his .899 OPS is, like the rest of his statistics, All-Star worthy. His numbers also articulate he's a fairly good clutch hitter, but if you've watched every game, you understand the shortcomings. And these are underscored because, often, he is among only a couple of players capable of driving in big runs.

I'm not going to spend too much time lamenting David Wright's troubles. After all, he's already received all the money he's ever going to need, and he plays baseball for a living. But he deserved to play on a winner, and I think it'll be several years before that's a reality again.

I have been a New York Mets fan since foolishly abandoning the mighty Yankees in my youth after Mickey Mantle retired. Since the fond, fleeting memories of the Tom Seaver, Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee years, I sit quietly yearning for a fraction of the success enjoyed annually by the team that inhabits the borough in which I was born…waiting and hoping…waiting and hoping.

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Updated Wednesday, Apr 6, 2011