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 Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?