David Wright was off to a rough start in April. The New York Mets captain was passive at the plate and late on many pitches. Wright is getting into a rhythm as of late, but his overall performance has been underwhelming.
Wright inked an eight-year, $138 million deal in 2012 and is earning $20 million per year from 2014 to 2018 with $2.5 million deferred annually without interest. He is 31 years old, and while he is the face of the franchise and the pride of Mets fans, the highest paid player in team history is not living up to his contract on the field.
Curtis Granderson and Chris Young have been disappointing and have already been lambasted as busts by some fans. Wright has been a bastion of consistency throughout his career, but he has received his fair share of criticism early this season. Although Wright is not stuck in a slump as deep as Granderson or Young's, he is taking up about as much payroll as them combined in 2014 and also must be held accountable.
Wright had a more promising start last year, as reflected by his statistics on ESPN.com. He posted a .283/.384/.476 slash line with seven home runs and 30 runs batted in through the first two months of the 2013 season. He drew 29 walks and struck out 40 times with 11 stolen bases and seven doubles and four triples.
From March 31 to the end of May this season, his offensive line was .294/.339/.396 with four homers and 30 runs batted in. Wright drew just 15 walks and struck out 56 times with only three stolen bases, 12 doubles and no triples.
Wright is getting on base less frequently in 2014 than he did in 2013, and his power is down despite the higher strikeout rate. His career on-base percentage is .380 with a slugging percentage of .502.
He remains sturdy at the hot corner, making diving plays and saving runs, but some of his throws have been inaccurate. Wright already has six errors, even though he finished the 2013 season with nine.
After hitting a home run on Opening Day (March 31), Wright did not launch any long balls in April and posted a meager .245/.301/.275 slash line with only three extra base hits. FanGraphs Baseball's 2014 ZiPS Projections predicted that Wright will post a .276/.358/.467 slash line, all below his career averages, this season. At this pace those projections, perhaps aside from the low batting average, would be something to hope for.
One reason to believe that Wright will bounce back is that he made notable improvements in May. Wright was a different player last month with a .320/.360/.461 offensive line, three homers and nine doubles. His batting average, OBP and slugging percentage in May 2014 are relatively close to the first two months of his 2013 season.
According to ESPN’s Hot Zones, Wright has been red hot on down and in pitches, but he is cold or frigid just about everywhere else. He has been chasing outside and missing badly on pitches high in the strike zone, particularly fastballs high and in. Sliders away are also problematic for the third baseman.
Wright is off to a 3-for-8 start to June with two walks and a two-run double on June 2 against the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park. The long shot to center field nearly cleared the fence.
With four months left in 2014, Wright has plenty of time to redeem himself. His first two months were underwhelming as a whole, but it is too early to write him off.