Thursday, December 27, 2012

50 Years in Cards: 2010

Part 49 of our 50-year Face of the Franchise...
What is it: 2010 Topps #60, David Wright

What makes it interesting: 2010 marked the year that MLB decided to only license Topps to produce Baseball Cards. Once again the only game in town, Topps' effort improved, if only slightly, with the '10s. There's a little too much design at work here, with the color circle sweeping across the edge of the card, which takes away the emphasis on the player photo. But at least you always know the team the player is on.

The book isn't yet closed on David Wright's career. But if anything is certain, it's that David Wright will become the most meaningful offensive player ever produced by the organization.

It seems as though Wright was warranted to be a Met from day one. A Norfolk, Virginia boy, David was raised on the Mets AAA team and grew up as a Mets fan. Selected as a compensatory pick in 2001 after the Mets lost Mike Hampton, Wright was heralded as a future star all the way up the ladder before making his Major League debut in 2004. Immediately handed the 3rd Base job on a full-time basis, Wright has never relinquished his hold on the position. He arrived on the scene with a professional attitude and the polish befitting a veteran, knocking out 14 Home Runs and driving home 40 that first half-season and only going up from there. He proved himself a star in his first full year in the Majors, batting .306 and driving in 102 runs along with 27 Home Runs. A hot start in 2006 earned him the first of currently 6 All Star Game appearances, and his defense developed to the point where he earned a pair of Gold Gloves in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, Wright hit a then-career high 30 Home Runs to go along with his career high of 34 stolen bases, becoming the first Met since Howard Johnson to post a 30-30 season. Though injuries and a depleted lineup led to a down year in 2009, Wright hit the first Mets Home Run in Citi Field. By 2012, Wright began to make his mark on the franchise record books. Already the team leader in Doubles, Wright claimed Mets records for RBIs in April, Runs Scored in June, and with a scratch single on September 26th, passed Ed Kranepool with his 1,419th hit. His new 7-year contract almost ensures that he'll own basically every meaningful offensive record in Mets history by time he's through.

That's not to say that Wright has been perfect in his years here. He's come under fire for several instances where he's failed in the clutch. His failures, in particular down the stretch in 2008, and over the course of the season in 2009, have stood out because of the circumstances surrounding them. But Wright has had quite a few great clutch performances. A consummate team player, Wright has often had to bear the burden of carrying the team on his back, and it's caused him to press a bit more than he should. As he's grown, he's begun to learn to avoid this. The result was that in 2012, he got off to one of the best starts of his career. A bad slump in the second half dragged his numbers down, but considering that nobody around him was hitting, many pitchers were either pitching around him, or simply not giving him anything to hit. Wright's best years were when he had Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran surrounding him in the lineup. Early in 2012, he had people like Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy getting on base ahead of him, and allowing him to see good pitches to hit. When he's had good protection, he's had success. It's cliche, but it's also true.

I've mentioned before that it's tough to find Wright's real place in Mets history just yet, because it's a story that's still in progress. The numbers he's put up over his first 9 seasons have assured him a place in Mets History. The personal results are great, but ultimately, the Mets haven't reached the team goal that he and everyone watching would like to see. Wright's career has already placed him among the lofty heights of such Met luminaries as Hernandez and Piazza. A few more really good years and he could be considered among the real greats like Gooden and Strawberry. It's a long way from calling it a possibility right now, but should the Mets finally return to the Postseason and bring home a World Series Championship with Wright in the mix, it's quite possible that he could be considered among Tom Seaver as the very best to wear a Mets uniform. Time will tell.

Card back:

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