David Wright is featured on the cover of MLB 07 The Show. He has his own ESPN commercial. He has appeared on Total Request Live and Late Show with David Letterman. He is sponsored by Vitamin Water. New York Magazine called him “the perfect New York sports star”. Delta Air Lines has named an airplane after him. And he’s made of wax.
David Wright has hit five homeruns in the past 82 games. None in 2007 thus far.
Cue the backlash.
It’s really no secret that over the past half-season, David’s power numbers have been less than impressive. He has slugged a pedestrian .427, with 43 RBIs to go along with his five homeruns (one dinger per 60 at-bats). Some have blamed his surprising performance in the homerun derby over the All-Star break. Others, I’m sure, will blame his off-field commitments such as PR work, sponsorship appearances, and his efforts for his personal charity, the David Wright Foundation. Whatever the reason, David has not performed at the level his reputation would warrant, and it has not gone unnoticed.
The odd part of this is that his contact rate has not changed all that much. He is and has been at or above the 80% mark, so he’s not striking out any more often than he used to. Has he been unlucky? Well, not really. Roughly 36% of the balls he’s put into play has resulted in a hit (not counting homeruns), which actually is better than average. Is he being less patient? Hardly. So far this year, he’s seen 4.19 pitches per plate appearance, good enough for 17th in MLB. He’s still hitting the ball in the air at a decent rate (albeit lower than his career average, but not a big enough difference to play a major factor). It’s just not clearing the wall. It also hasn’t helped that he hasn’t performed well with runners in scoring position thus far in 2007, with six strikeouts in 18ABs, which helps account for the .167 batting average in those situations. Hey, I know 18 ABs don’t tell you squat. But you try convincing the Mets fans who have begun to jeer him.
So why does he have a dismal isolated power of .072 in 2007?
The only logical answer I can think of (aside from the women who are attracted to young, single, athletic, rich, and good-looking guys who have a massive bachelor pad in the Flatiron District – but how many of those women can there be in NYC? Two? Four?) is that pitchers have adjusted. They’re keeping him off-balance on pitches low and away from him and he hasn’t been able to adjust to these changes. Pitchers know he can drive the ball over the wall in left. Unless he can maintain his balance on pitches away again, they have no reason to pound the ball inside.
Or maybe it’s the herpes (Please don’t sue me. I have so very little).