Today is the 10th anniversary of David Wright’s big-league debut with the Mets, which came on July 21, 2004.
Wright is having a poor season, at least for his lofty standards, but he’s been a helluva player since basically Day 1 and my perception is that he’s one of the most underrated stars in baseball because so much of the focus on his performance is based on the Mets struggling to emerge as contenders for most of his career.
Yet in the middle of his age-31 season he’s already made seven All-Star teams, won a pair of Gold Glove awards, finished among the top-10 vote-getters in MVP balloting four times, and hit an even .300 with an .879 OPS, 230 homers, 187 stolen bases, and 1,660 hits.
To put all of that into some context, here’s how Wright ranks among the all-time leaders in Wins Above Replacement by third basemen through age 31:
Eddie Mathews 81.7
Mike Schmidt 66.6
Ron Santo 64.8
George Brett 61.9
Wade Boggs 59.9
Buddy Bell 54.3
Scott Rolen 53.2
Adrian Beltre 52.3
Brooks Robinson 51.2
Home Run Baker 50.4
DAVID WRIGHT 49.1
Chipper Jones 48.5
He’ll need to stay healthy and get back to his pre-2014 production to have a Hall of Fame career, but Wright is among the dozen best third basemen in MLB history through age 31 and he’s certainly on a Hall of Fame path 10 years in.
Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times has an outstanding profile of former Rays prospect Brandon Martin, who is currently in jail for allegedly murdering three men nearly two years ago.
Fenno describes Martin’s erratic personality as he became a highly-touted baseball prospect who then descends into drug use. Friends described Martin has having completely changed into an unrecognizable person. Martin had repeated conflicts with friends and family such that police reports became common and he was placed in a psychiatric facility. Sadly, the facility only held him for less than 48 hours. He would allegedly murder three people upon returning home: his father, his brother-in-law, and a home security system contractor. Martin fled from police, who eventually caught up to him and subdued him with the help of a police dog.
Fenno’s profile is really worth a read, so click here to check it out.
Martin, 23, was selected by the Rays in the first round (38th overall) of the 2011 draft. He spent three years in the Rays’ system, reaching as high as Single-A Bowling Green.
On Sunday, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was ejected for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado‘s head. It was revenge for a slide of Machado’s which ended up injuring Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Barnes was suspended four games.
Hall of Famer and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said that if he were in Barnes’ shoes, he would have also thrown at Machado, although not necessarily at his head. Via ESPN’s Scott Lauber:
If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado, as much as I love him. The only thing I would’ve done differently is probably bring the ball a little bit lower.
Martinez added that Machado “did not intend to hurt Pedroia. And I know that because I know Machado.” And he doesn’t think Barnes meant to throw at Machado’s head.
Martinez, of course, was certainly a pitcher who wasn’t afraid to pitch inside to batters and even hit a few of them when he felt he or his teammates had been wronged. This is an unfortunate part of baseball’s culture and the fact that it continues means that it will eventually result in someone being seriously hurt. It’s disappointing that Martinez isn’t willing to be a better role model now that his playing days are over. Martinez could have set an example for today’s pitchers by saying what Barnes did crossed a line. Getting a Hall of Famer’s seal of approval will only embolden players now when they feel they must defend their teammates’ honor.
The “tradition” of beaning batters to defend one’s teammates is anachronistic in today’s game, especially when Major League Baseball has made strides in so many other ways recently to protect players’ safety.