What do Miguel Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Anthony Rendon, Josh Harrison, Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Seager, Evan Longoria, Pablo Sandoval, Nolan Arenado, Matt Carpenter, Aramis Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall, Carlos Santana, and Casey McGehee have in common?
When he was shut down, they all ranked ahead of David Wright on ESPN’s standard league 2014 Player Rater at third base. That’s 15 guys, and the list isn’t going to get any smaller with Wright being done for the year.
So, since he won’t be playing again in 2014, let’s take a quick look back at what the Mets third baseman did this year.
[table id=1212 /]
Wright played most of the season so we don’t really need to extrapolate those numbers. But if you’re so inclined, this is what Wright would have done if he played 162 games at those paces.
[table id=1213 /]
Those numbers are a little troubling. Coming into the year, Wright and Troy Tulowitzki had similar scouting reports for fantasy owners. The numbers will be good when they’re on the field, we just don’t know how often they’ll be on the field. Wright doesn’t have quite Tulo’s ceiling, especially because third base is a much deeper position. But he also wasn’t quite as injury prone as Tulo, so the overall outlooks were similar.
I know that Wright was hurt this year, but he was on the field. He played 134 of 144 Mets games before they shut him down on Tuesday. He just wasn’t that good. So, what went wrong?
Well let’s start here. David Wright can hit the long ball but you draft him to your fantasy team, you’re hoping for a batting average around .300. Wright’s Fangraphs Page sheds some light on why we had such a dramatic drop.
[table id=1214 /]
The line drive rate alone says that Wright got unlucky. When you consider that he actually hit line drives at a slightly better rate, there really isn’t a reason that Wright’s averaged should have dropped 40 points. Unfortunately, the rest of the numbers indicate that the drop was no fluke. When wright gets his bat on the ball, he’s hitting it well. Unfortunately, he’s not getting his bat on the ball at a particularly high rate compared to what we’ve grown used to seeing.
Now, if you were to tell me know that Wright will have a bounce back year in 2015, it wouldn’t flabbergast me. I’m just not that optimistic. One number that we didn’t look at before was his swinging strike percentage. But again, thanks to Fangraphs, we have that, and it doesn’t paint the prettiest of pictures.
- 2012: 7.1 %
- 2013: 7.3 %
- 2014: 8.0 %
That rate isn’t the worst of Wright’s career, but it is the worst of the last three years. When you consider that that rate was 10.4 % in 2010, the jump from 7.1, to 7.3, to 8.0 doesn’t seem especially alarming, but it really is a reason to be concerned. Yes, he missed more balls in 2010, but also hit 29 homers, and that does tend to create a higher swing and miss rate for most guys. When you’re not even at 10 homers and are beginning to swing and miss more, your bat speed is likely dropping, and that causes the overall regression.
If that is the case, then it might just be a matter of time and injuries finally breaking David Wright down. He’ll be 32 in December and with the exception of 2012 when he played 156 games, the 134 games he played in 2014 was the most we’ve seen Wright on the field since 2011 (102 games in 2011, 112 in 2013).
As we see above, there are plenty of other third basemen that you can target, and that even accounts for Cabrera losing eligibility and probably not ever regaining it. Nothing indicates that Wright’s numbers are going to get better in 2015. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just not likely.