Where Will David Wright Rank Among the Greatest Mets Ever When He Retires?
From the inception of the franchise in 1962 until July of 2004, third base was a revolving door for the New York Mets.
That all changed on July 21 of that year when a Virginia native got the call up from Triple-A Norfolk.
The soft-spoken Wright took control of the hot corner and never looked back, becoming the face of the franchise along with fellow left-side infielder Jose Reyes.
Reyes has since moved on, but Wright has become the focal point of the team and the unquestioned leader, as he has steadily broken several individual franchise records.
While the Mets have had a number of terrific players don the blue and orange at various points in their history, none have been with the franchise from the time they were drafted until they stepped away from the game of baseball.
Who Will Be Regarded As the Second-Greatest Met Player Ever?
After signing his seven-year contract worth $122 million—making him the richest player in franchise history—Wright can become the first.
Possibly the best, as well.
Older-generation Mets fans will be hard-pressed to ever crown a player better than "The Franchise" Tom Seaver.
After all, Seaver was a part of the first World Series team in franchise history, a miraculous upset of the powerhouse Baltimore Orioles in 1969.
If the Mets had surrounded Seaver with a better offense—or even a mediocre one—he could've been one of the top five winningest pitchers of all-time.
Regardless, winning 311 games with eight top 10 Cy Young finishes is nothing to scoff at.
For argument's sake, let's say Seaver will go down as the best pitcher in team history and likely the most transcending player, which cements his spot at No. 1.
I say David Wright will retire as the second best, just above Mike Piazza and Darryl Strawberry.
Growing up in the 1990s, I witnessed the peak of Mike Piazza's career. He went from being a little-known 62nd-round pick out of the University of Miami to being the greatest hitting catcher of all time.
Not to be forgotten, he was the heart and soul of the 1999 and 2000 teams, which remains the only time the Mets have made the postseason in consecutive years.
Piazza was a force in the middle of the lineup and the primary reason they were able to overcome an outfield that struck less fear into opposing pitchers than the common cold.
Seriously, Jay Payton led the force in 2000 with a 98 OPS+.
The fearsome catcher had some incredible offensive years but played his first seven seasons—six of which were top 14 MVP finishes—with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
When GM Steve Phillips acquired him in 1998, he was already an established star.
Piazza lived up to the hype as he posted five consecutive 30-plus home run seasons in which his slash line was .308/.378/.575.
That five-year run was not only historic for a catcher, but it is pretty similar to the careers of Ralph Kiner and Stan Musial.
Unfortunately, the toll of being a catcher eventually slowed down his production significantly as he did not surpass 22 home runs or an .860 OPS from that point on.
He finished his Mets' career with 220 home runs and a .915 OPS.
From a pure power perspective, Piazza's career makes Wright's pale in comparison.
Where Wright has the advantage, however, is in the all-around game.
It is no secret Piazza was a mediocre catcher at best. He never won a Gold Glove and threw out 23 percent of attempted base stealers for his career.
Wright has won two Gold Gloves prior to his age-30 season and certainly could have been crowned with a third one in 2012.
Offensively, he is no slouch.
During his best four-year run from 2005-'08—in which had three top 10 finishes in the MVP voting—he compiled a slash line of .311/.394/.534.
It is worth mentioning these numbers were among the league-leaders in the post-steroid era, while Piazza played in a decade in which leadoff hitter Brady Anderson knocked 50 home runs in 1996.
Wright also was a more well-rounded player, as he averaged 22 stolen bases during that period and posted a 30-30 season in 2007.
The advantage Piazza has is in playing the most physically demanding position while being the lone offensive force on the team.
The 2006 Mets featured seven players who had an OPS+ above the league average.
Ultimately, Wright has a large portion of his career left. He already owns the franchise records for walks, hits, total bases, extra-base hits, doubles and runs scored and has a chance to eclipse Strawberry's home run total of 252 as well.
While Piazza may go down as a first-ballot Hall of Famer due to his unmatched statistics at his position, Wright will finish with close to 3,000 hits and 400 home runs in an era where offense is secondary to pitching and defense.
For what it's worth, Wright has also scored points with the fanbase for being such a candid figure and playing with youthful exuberance, while Piazza was a much more reserved and stoic personality.
The pantheon of blue and orange will forever hold Tom Terrific at the pinnacle, but the humble boy from Chesapeake, VA is right behind him.
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