Thursday, September 25, 2008

David Wright...chokester

I love New York. I really do. I think they bring a lot of great things to this country. Some of the best music clubs in the country like CBGB (though closed now) are there. Times Square is there. The Statue of Liberty, Broadway, lower Manhattan, Madison Square Garden, Ellis Island...I mean, I've never been there, but damn do I want to go.

But holy fuck, their fans can be pretty apeshit. Case in point, David Wright.

You may have heard of him. Wright, a Norfolk boy, was drafted in 2001 and was in the majors just three years later. In nearly 700 career games, he has hit .309/.388/.534 with an adjusted OPS that is 39% better than the league average. A lot of people are down on his defense, but he reminds me of Rafael Furcal. The errors mask how good he actually is because his incredible range leads to tough chances.

Sounds like the kind of guy you might want. I think he's a little less than Chipper at the same points in their career, but is clearly a better defender. However, to hear the Mets fans talk, you'd think he was a bum.

See, New York fans have this snowball quality. They attach themselves to an easy statement and go with it. A-Rod is a choker, the Yankee fans say. They base this on a handful of games in any given year that just so happen to typically be against the better pitching in the league. Yet, if you looked at his career with RISP, he is hitting .303/.403/.553. Choking implies that the player gets worse in high-stress situation. A-Rod's overall career marks are .306/.389/.578. A small difference. But he's a choker.

Enter Wright, A-Rod's crosstown third base rival. .301/.395/.502 career with RISP. I'd take that, myself.

But he's a choker because the fans say he is. Now someone is going to point out that his numbers with RISP are exceptionally bad this year (.246/.329/.380). But I can have fun with seasonal splits. With a runner on first, Wright is hitting .350/.443/.775. So maybe Jose Reyes should just stay at first and everything will be okay. Did you know Mr. Clutch, Derek Jeter, hit just .261/.386/.355 with RISP in 2005? But the same people who whine about A-Rod and Wright point to Jeter as the man who rises above.

No, he doesn't. And, no, A-Rod and Wright don't slink down in clutch situations. The truth is...all three are very good players. A-Rod is probably the best player of this generation. But some seasons, the hits just don't come with runners in scoring position. This game isn't completely under your control. You can't pick when you get the hits and when you don't.

What I've never understood is that if players suddenly concentrate harder with runners on, if they held that same concentration every at-bat, they'd all be .400 hitters, right?

By all means, Mets fans...scream about trading David Wright. Yell it to the management. Maybe they will listen. Hopefully, they trade him out of the NL East. And by the time you blast management for trading him, maybe you'll understand that you do not seem to grasp the game as much as you think.

(I promise to talk about the Braves more in the future, I do.)

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