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.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.