GimmeShelter Posted February 26, 2009 Share Posted February 26, 2009 Stats say critics have it wrong on David Wright Related News Articles Castillo drives in four as Mets beat O's in opener PORT ST. LUCIE - You can hear it in David Wright's voice. It kills him to talk about this, about how he seemed to morph from one of baseball's best clutch hitters into someone who couldn't deliver for the Mets when it counted most last season. Part of him surely wants to publicly dismiss his ugly clutch numbers in 2008 as fluky, and indeed his strong career numbers offer proof of what Wright can do under pressure. Still, he knows that won't fly, in part because two straight September collapses by the Mets mean having to grit your teeth and live with the fallout, even being called chokers by Cole Hamels. So Wright, ever accountable, stands at his locker and tries to make some sense of what went wrong. And it's not as if he had a lousy year: he hit .302 with 33 home runs and a career-high 124 RBI, yet he hit only .243 with runners in scoring position, .259 with runners on third and less than two outs and .235 with the bases loaded. Wright shrugs at the discrepancy. "I always feel comfortable with runners in scoring position," he was saying Wednesday. "I want to be the guy with the bat in my hands with the game on the line. Maybe there were points last year when I put too much pressure on myself to be that guy, but it's not outside pressure. It's the pressure I put on myself. I didn't feel any different hitting in those situations last year, but at times maybe I got overly aggressive and got out of my game a little bit." It was all the more noticeable because Wright's clutch numbers his first three-plus seasons were among the best in the game. For his career, even after last year's problems, he is hitting .300 with runners in scoring position, .447 with runners on third and less than two outs and .393 with the bases loaded. The .447 number is beyond spectacular, and doesn't even speak to sacrifice flies or run-producing groundouts. So Wright is practically automatic at getting a runner home from third with less than two outs, and yet it was a situation like that in the final week of the season that Mets fans likely remember as the most painful at-bat of the collapse. With Daniel Murphy on third after a leadoff triple in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game against the Cubs, Wright went from a 3-0 count to striking out against Bobby Howry on a fastball well outside. The Mets didn't get the run in and wound up losing a pivotal game. "Everybody wants to talk about that at-bat," Wright said with a sigh. "Again, I wanted to be the guy up there in that situation, be the guy who is clutch. To me, I didn't get the job done, I ended up swinging at a pitch outside the zone, but I didn't buckle under the pressure. I felt like I just didn't execute." Whatever the reason, that at-bat, together with Wright's poor clutch numbers, made him a focal point of last season's collapse. Still, it's not as if he disappeared in the final weeks, hitting .340 in September with six home runs and 21 RBI. As such, the radio talk that followed about how perhaps Wright should be traded just didn't make sense. At age 26 he has hit over .300 and racked up 100 or more RBI in each of his first four full seasons, and his his track record suggests that 2008 was an aberration. He did struggle in his only postseason, hitting only .216 in 2006, but it's not as if he has an Alex Rodriguez-like history of underperforming when the pressure is on. As the player who has become the face of these Mets, Wright may feel more pressure than anyone this season to overcome the stigma of the collapses. The Phillies have added to the challenge with all the choker talk. "I just hope we kind of store everything they've said in the back of our minds," Wright said of the Phillies, "and take that out there with us the first time we play them and don't let up the entire year." There is a lot stored in Wright's mind, it seems. He wryly notes that part of the enjoyment of playing in New York is that "the fans are very knowledgeable - they know what you're hitting with runners in scoring position." In other words, Wright isn't about to say it, but he wants to shut some people up this year. After all, the numbers don't lie. It's just that in this case you're obliged to ask: Which numbers? [url=http://www.baseballprospectus.com/fantasy/dc/] Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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