After missing more than two years due to neck and shoulder problems, New York Mets third baseman David Wright announced his retirement from Major League Baseball on Thursday. Wright will be activated from the disabled list on September 25th before making his final start in a Mets uniform on September 29th, the Mets’ second-to-last game of the season.
Wright has been with the Mets since they drafted him 38th overall in the 2001 MLB Draft, and he was one of the best players of the 2000s. During an eight-year span from 2006 to 2013, only four position players in the game produced more fWAR than Wright’s 40.8.
He was selected to seven National League All-Star Games and slashed .301/.384/.503 in that near-decade span, all the while playing solid defense at the hot corner. Wright was the face of the Mets’ franchise, and no position player in Mets history has produced more fWAR than Wright’s career 52.3. In fact, nobody is even close — Darryl Strawberry ranks second with a 35.5 fWAR mark.
Best Mets position players of all-time
Here’s a tweet from our very own account that further drives home this point:
It's not too much of a stretch to say that David Wright was the best position player in Mets history:— Beyond the Box Score (@BtBScore) September 13, 2018
-1st in fWAR
-2nd in games played
-2nd in HRs
-4th in SB
-5th in wRC+ (min 1000 PA)
Clearly, Wright is the best position player to ever play for the Mets, but is he the best player ever to suit up for the organization? That question is a bit more complicated.
Tom Seaver and Dwight “Doc” Gooden — both Mets legends — may rank above Wright in the best player ever department. Seaver, for one, probably does. He won three Cy Young awards, all with the Mets; went to 12 All-Star Games, 10 with the Mets; and produced 68.0 fWAR while wearing the Mets’ blue and orange. On top of that, Seaver started two games of the 1969 World Series, helping to capture the franchise’s first championship. Nobody tops Seaver.
The argument between Gooden and Wright is a lot closer, but Gooden, too, probably ranks above Wright. The two have produced nearly identical fWARs over their careers — Gooden slightly edges Wright, 52.4 to 52.3. (Wright, technically, could surpass Gooden with a good start in his final game.) Gooden was one of the best young pitchers in baseball, and his first five seasons in the big leagues ended up being his five best: a 91-35 record, a 2.62 ERA, a 2.46 FIP and a Cy Young award in 1985. Gooden, too, pitched in a World Series that the Mets went on to win, but he was not as effective as Seaver. He lost both starts and pitched to a 8.00 ERA. He did, however, put up a legendary performance in Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS, pitching 10 innings and allowing just one run.
While Wright was never a member of a Mets team that went on to win the World Series, he did hit one of the most memorable home runs in recent Mets history, slugging a home run in the 1st inning of Game 3 of the 2015 World Series. This would be the only game the Mets would go on to win.
It’s not Wright’s fault that the Mets never went on to win the World Series with him in uniform; after all, baseball is a team effort, and the Mets never had great teams with Wright aboard. In fact, the Mets have made the playoffs just twice since Wright made his MLB debut in 2004.
On the whole, Wright is probably the second-best player in Mets franchise history, behind Seaver. Why is this the case? What does it for me goes beyond what Wright did just on the field. He was the face of the franchise during his time in New York. He never played a game for another team. He always produced while on the field. And, he was one of the most recognizable players in the game.
You can’t talk about any Mets team since 2000 without mentioning David Wright. He defined the franchise for so long that it really is sad seeing him go, especially in the way that he is. Injuries really do stink, and it’s so unfortunate that they’ve defined Wright for the past four years, earning him comparisons to Don Mattingly.
I wish Wright the best in retirement. It was a pleasure being able to watch him for nearly his entire career.
Devan Fink is a Featured Writer for Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DevanFink.