How The Derby Screwed Up David Wright

Michael GanciCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JULY 10:  National League All-Star David Wright of the New York Mets hits in the final round of the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby at PNC Park on July 10, 2006 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

David Wright seems to be a case that is going to drive every Mets’ fan crazy until the end of time. At the moment, David is hitting .324 with five homers and 44 RBI at the All Star break, and many people around baseball are wondering what has happened to his bat.

The common sentiment that people like to use is the crazy dimensions of Citi Field. Because the park is built overwhelmingly for pitchers, David has had quite a few potential homers taken away. That is definitely a fair point, but something is different about his swing.

Case in point. There used to be a time earlier in Wright’s career where the count would be 0-2, and Gary Cohen would seemingly say, “And the at-bat will just begin for David Wright.” David continuously battled, and it seemed like a positive result would happen more often than not during his-at bats.

This year, that is certainly not the case. Wright has had 19 at-bats in which the count is at 0-2, and he has struck out in 15 of those trips to the plate.

He has also failed to get a hit while in that predicament, and we are already more than halfway through the season. His patience is lacking, and he has been chasing a lot of bad balls out of the strike zone. There is one thing that I blame for all of this.

I blame the 2006 Home Run Derby.

Wright put on quite a show and almost won the whole thing in the Derby, but he was bested by soon-to-be divisional rival Ryan Howard. I say soon-to-be because this was before the Mets’ two collapses. I know. Don’t remind me.

Wright clobbered 16 homers in the first round and two in the semis, and that sent him to the finals. He hit four, but Howard one-upped him to take home the crown.

But something in Wright had changed that summer.

When looking at the numbers of 2006, you wouldn’t think Wright struggled at all. But, did you know that Wright has 19 homers at the All Star break? That means he hit just seven homers in the last two-plus months of the season. That sounds familiar…doesn’t it?

The crazy thing is that Wright has managed to get the totals in line, but something is still fundamentally wrong with his swing.

In 2007 and 2008, Wright eclipsed 30 homers and 107 RBI, but that was still while his strikeout numbers were climbing and his quality at-bats were declining.

After starting his career as a great two-strike hitter, Wright is hitting just .227 after the count is 0-2 in his career. Even worse, when the count is at 0-2, the third pitch resulted in 107 strikeouts in 211 at-bats. That is just an alarming rate.

What I don’t get is the fact that every person who watches the game can see that Wright has a terrible hitch in his swing. He needs to go back to the basics and swing level, because if he doesn’t, the strikeouts will keep on piling up.

He is on pace to set a personal high in strikeouts this year. Before ’09, the high was 118. He already has struck out 87 times in 86 games.

Not good.

Wright is the main reason I am always clamoring for Howard Johnson to be fired. Keith Hernandez knows what Wright should be doing, but Wright’s own coach and mentor can’t figure it out when he is standing ten feet away? That is just inexcusable.

It should be interesting to watch Wright in the second half, but the Mets may need him to put them on his back if they want to have any chance at making a run at a playoff spot this season.

Talk about pressure.


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