On Thursday, New York Mets third baseman David Wright announced he would return to the starting lineup once more before walking away from a playing career derailed by injury.
Although the end of Wright's career is coming under sub-optimal circumstances -- in a perfect world, his retirement would be precipitated by his will and/or skill level -- this is a fitting moment to consider his legacy.
Because Wright hasn't played in the majors in more than two years, it's easy to forget how talented he was during his heyday. He made seven All-Star Games and won a pair of Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers alike. His current career batting line is .296/.376/.491, with 242 home runs and more than 50 wins above replacement. He also hit a memorable home run in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series to give the Mets an early lead.
Unfortunately, injuries cut into the tail end of Wright's career, limiting him to 209 games since 2014. Had Wright been able to stay on the field, he likely would have put himself into Hall of Fame consideration. Even so, there's a strong case to be made that Wright is the best player in Mets history. Take a look at where he ranks in numerous categories:
David Wright will be in the Mets starting lineup September 29th at Citi Field. He'll be activated for the team's final homestand of the season, and will look to add to his many franchise records. pic.twitter.com/t8rwO15Ccg— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 13, 2018
That doesn't include how Wright ranks fifth in OPS+, or how he leads the Mets in all-time WAR -- with nearly 14 wins more than second-place Darryl Strawberry. Even other WAR providers who are kinder to Mike Piazza's defense give the nod to Wright.
Stepping outside of the Mets spectrum, consider Wright's ranks among third basemen since he debuted in 2004 (min: 1,000 PA):
- BA: 2nd
- OBP: 4th
- SLG: 9th
- HR: 5th
- RBI: 4th
- OPS+: 6th
- WAR: 4th
And here's where he ranked among all players from 2005-14 -- the period of his peak:
- BA: 23rd
- OBP: 21st
- SLG: 33rd
- HR: 25th
- RBI: 9th
- OPS+: 22nd
- WAR: 6th
The players with more WAR than Wright during that period: Albert Pujols, Chase Utley, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, and Robinson Cano. That's elite company.
As it stands, Wright will finish about 18 wins short of the average Hall of Fame third baseman's total. He'll have about three fewer wins over his peak than the average, too. It's unclear if voters will make an exception or give him the benefit of the doubt due to injury.
What is clear is that Wright is arguably the best player in Mets history, and was one of the best players in baseball period during his top years. It's a shame we'll always be left to wonder what could have been had he stayed healthy.