Spring training is a time for optimism in the MLB.
Everyone is tied for first, hot minor league prospects can wow the fanbase with their youthful exploits, returning veterans are recharged and healed and ready to lead the team to victory.
Yes, spring training is a hopeful time for fans. They have visions of meaningful September baseball and deep playoff runs—well, unless your a Mets fan.
Maybe it's the years of losing. Maybe it's the current owner's legal troubles. Or maybe it's just the fact that we just lost the catalyst to our teams offense, and arguably the teams most popular player to a division rival.
Mets fans are not happy, and most are looking to David Wright to reestablish himself as the league's premier third baseman. Fans want someone the Mets can rebuild their sagging franchise around, and whose play can placate the fanbase while Sandy Alderson reshapes the team in his quasi-Moneyball image.
But can David Wright be that player? That franchise cornerstone that we can pencil in at the number three hole for years to come?
Well, more so in baseball than any other sport, the numbers don't lie. Lets take a good look at Wright's number during his peak years.
* numbers obtained from baseball-reference.com
Those are definitely franchise player type numbers, but only when you look at them in a vacuum.
During his peak statistical years Wright had the comfort of knowing that he didn't have to carry the offense by himself usually because of a guy named Carlos.
Both Beltran and Delgado protected David in the lineup and even in 2005 when Cliff Floyd had his unexpected year of 34 homers and 98 RBI's Wright was always surrounded with viable hitters that made pitchers have to pitch to him.
Here's the evidence.
2007: Beltran- .276/33/112/.353
2008: Beltran- .284/27/112/.376
*numbers obtained from baseball-reference.com
In recent seasons where David has struggled, 2009 and 2011, his best lineup protectors statistically were Daniel Murphy and a half year of Carlos Beltran, respectively. His good year of 2010 coincided with the emergence of Ike Davis and the breakout year of Angel Pagan. Obviously, he was also hampered in 2011 by a back injury.
So the question remains, is David Wright "the" player the Mets franchise can rebuild around?
I think the evidence says that he can. When supported by good hitters, Wright can mash the ball and put up legitimate MVP type numbers. But not unlike every other player in Major League Baseball, David Wright cannot carry an offense by himself.
So the real question is—are the Mets going to surround David Wright with those hitters?
The Mets are banking on a turnaround year for Jason Bay and a healthy Ike Davis to be those hitters. But if the players around him in the lineup are on the DL—or not producing—Wright will change his approach at the plate and put together an underwhelming season.