He has already set a number of franchise records, and he may have another eight or nine years ahead of him.
Wright's contract with the club goes through the 2012 season with a $16 million club option for '13. The six-year, $55-million contract he signed back in 2007 is one of the better financial moves the team has made in the past decade.
Assuming he signs an extension, he will have spent his peak years with the club.
However, while his longevity will ultimately define the legacy he leaves in the Big Apple, it could be the next few seasons that establish him as the greatest Mets hitter of all time.
Fan favorite Mike Piazza earned his reputation during eight good years at Shea Stadium, and Darryl Strawberry was a seven-time All-Star and key component of the 1986 championship team.
Both players transformed the team, more so in the case of Piazza, is the best offensive catcher ever, and one destined for Cooperstown.
He was a feared slugger in a way that Wright is not, but the third baseman has started to show Piazza's sense of leadership, which is sorely missing from the current team.
Wright has always said the right things and, while that alone obviously isn't enough, he is now leading by example, showing teammates that a losing attitude is not acceptable.
By contrast, Gary Carter had four solid years in the mid-to-late '80s and a World Series ring to his name, but arrived from Montreal a few years too late to spend his prime years with the organization.
Similarly, Keith Hernandez, while one of the best defensive first basemen of his era, only had four full seasons with the Mets and was arguably a better offensive player in St. Louis.
Both Piazza and Straw are ahead of Wright now for different reasons, but Wright will soon be alongside them. With Johan Santana on the DL for at least the first half of the season, now is the time for Wright to step up more than ever.
He almost certainly isn't going to win a World Series in the next three years, and there's no guarantee that he gets a ring even if he stays at Citi Field for the next decade.
Still, should a championship, or the lack of one, detract from his contributions to the franchise?
Can Wright be considered one of the greatest without one?
I think he can. And will.
Willie McCovey, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb and Tony Gwynn are among the greatest players that ever lived—do you know how many world titles they have between them? Zero.
While Wright isn't in the conversation with any of these players, they show that you don't need a ring to validate your performance. It helps, naturally, but it's not a prerequisite for the Hall of Fame or any GOAT discussions.
Statistically, Wright has only a few peers in Mets history. Soon he could stand alone. A few things to remember:
- Wright already has more doubles than any Met and will be the all-time franchise leader in runs, RBI and extra bases and total bases by the end of the coming season.
- He's already led the team in RBI on five separate occasions—more than any other player—and there's a great chance that number will be eight when his current contract is up.
- He will have more hits than any other Met in history by 2012 and, assuming he stays healthy, will be second only to the longest-tenured Met Ed Kranepool in games played by the following year.
- Wright is currently 83 home runs off Strawberry's all-time Mets record (252) and, if he keeps up his career pace, will add 81 over the next three years (Strawberry's mark, which has already stood for 20 years, will be in serious doubt in the coming years).
- Add in the fact that his .305 batting average is a franchise-high among players with more than 500 games as a Met and that he'll also likely be fifth all time in steals by the end of this year, and you have one of the most complete all-around productive players in Mets history.
If he comes close to replicating his 2007 numbers, he'll be golden.
Lifetime, Wright is hitting .343 with 464 RBI, 108 homers, 90 steals and 439 runs when the Mets win.
In losses, he hits 81 points fewer with 200 RBI, 61 home runs, 48 steals and 200 runs. He's every bit as valuable to this team as Strawberry was in the mid '80s, and Piazza was at the start of the 21st century.
Unlike the group that Straw joined and Piazza inherited, though, Wright does not have a team built for instant success. Don't confuse payroll with talent and prospects.
He has already proven himself to be a natural leader in the clubhouse, on the field and in the community, and it's only a matter of time before he becomes the greatest ever hitter in the team's history.
I hate the cliched term "face of the franchise," but if the Mets do have any periods of extended success over the next decade, be sure that Wright will be at the heart of it.
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