David Wright’s Power Outage

The Hindenburg is an accurate portrayal of the 2009 Mets. Injuries, more injuries, and even more injuries lead to a disastrous campaign from the Metropolitans despite the opening of a new stadium in what was supposed to be a ceremonious christening like the other New York team witnessed. Amongst the questions the Mets will attempt to answer during the off-season includes David Wright’s 2009 and where he stands for 2010.

Wright’s power went on sabbatical in 2009. His ISO dropped from .225 from 2006-8 to .140 last year in spite of an inflated average on balls in play. Wright popped at least 25 home runs in each of his first four full seasons, but managed only 10 last season, and failed to reach 40 doubles for the first time in a full season, either – although he did hit 39. The Mets’ new park gives the appearance of a pitcher’s haven, which raises the question: was a lack of power only a problem for Wright, or was this a widespread occurrence?

To attempt and answer this question I took every member of the 2008-9 Mets who had at least 250 plate appearances in both seasons and compared their ISO. Unfortunately, this only resulted in five samples: Wright, Carlos Beltran, Fernando Tatis, Luis Castillo, and Ryan Church. Below you will see the results, but anecdotally I feel obligated to mention that Church saw 144 plate appearances with the Braves and had his ISO rise closer to expected levels.


Each player involved saw his ISO drop by nearly 20 points, and that’s even with Castillo’s inclusion. In theory, Castillo’s slap-hitting approach should be unaffected in large part by the ballpark’s steeper dimensions, but here that doesn’t seem to be the case. One season’s worth of data from five individuals isn’t enough for me to say one way or the other about the legitimacy of Wright’s blackout, but here’s another dataset to consider with each of their home/road ISO:


Even smaller sample sizes and also a mixed bag. Barring any Earth-shattering revelations or limb amputations, I would expect Wright to hit for more power in 2010. Mostly because it seems unlikely he would see his ability to hit for power decay in such an abrupt fashion.

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25 Responses to “David Wright’s Power Outage”

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  1. Schmenkman says:

    The Park Factors don’t really indicate Citi Field is a pitcher’s haven:

    Total offense: slight pitcher-friendly (0.943)
    Home Runs: slight hitter-friendly (1.057)

    Is there other data that does make it seem like a pitcher’s haven?

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  2. sooperstring says:

    “Wright’s power went on sabbath in 2009.”

    In the interest of internet nitpickiness, I have to think this is intended to be “sabbatical.”

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  3. Mike Schmidt had a season where he lost all of his power in 1978. Not that it means anything, but it’s interesting.

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    • Joe R says:

      Yep, Wright’s 27th year was still better than Schmidt’s 28th as a hitter, and of course Schmidt went on to win 2 straight MVPs just two and three years later.

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  4. The common theme of it being a pitchers haven is that it is uniformly bigger than Shea Stadium which usually played as a slight pitchers park, so the common thought would be that it would be a pitchers haven.

    Wright was still hitting line drives which is a good sign, but his K rate also increased with his BBRate decreasing. ESPN did an article saying that Citi Field vs Shea robbed Wright of about 6-7 home runs last year that would have just barely cleared the wall at Shea, but did not make the cut at Citi.

    Heres a Mets fan hoping that this season was just a blip, and won’t be anything like what we’ll see from Wright in the future.

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  5. Schmenkman says:

    Wright had 5 HRs at home, and 5 in away games. Citi may well prove to be a pitcher’s haven, although the data doesn’t support that yet, but Wright was equally powerless on the road. Overall he did hit somewhat better on the road: .812 OPS at home, .859 on the road.

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  6. Schmenkman says:

    Forgot to add… the Mets as a team hit only 49 HRs at home, but even fewer (45) on the road.

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  7. Tejesh says:

    With so many injuries and so many backup no-power players playing, I think drawing any conclusions power wise from the 09 Mets is really difficult, at best.

    We should get a much better idea in 2010.

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    • The Hit Dog says:

      How is this a reason not to draw conclusions about Wright?

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      • lookatthosetwins says:

        To give him the benefit of the doubt, I’m assuming that he’s talking about looking at the other players, to see if its a product of the ball park.

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  8. Joe R says:

    The thing that should be a real concern, IMO, is this:


    05: 19.7%
    06: 19.4%
    07: 19.0%
    08: 18.8%
    09: 26.2%

    That shows a clear drop in skill in 2009 as his walk rate was pretty much the same as always. That’s a .270/.360/.470 guy even with a power rebound.

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  9. jimbo says:

    “Mostly because it seems unlikely he would see his ability to hit for power decay in such an abrupt fashion.”

    Lacking any other explanation, I have to think he’s as likely to hit 30 as he is 10 next year. Have him ranked 8th overall right now for 2010. Might move down depending on the lineup around him.

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    • Tim L. says:

      I think at 8th overall, depending on what your league settings are is going to overvalue Wright. Draft him 8th at your own peril.

      Unless he continues to develop more power (not out of the realm of possibility at his age), or plays somewhere else, his 30 HR days are probably over. His track record from 2007-2008 shows that a significant amount of his homeruns barely clear the wall. His home park plays 25-30 feet farther back than previously. That is a significant drag on the power.

      Look at Wright’s 2nd half of 2008 for his downside risk. It’s considerable. If he corrects his approach, he’ll be a .300 hitter, and a 15-20+ HR guy with 25+ SB for a few more years. There is significant value in that. But his downside risk is greater than it was. Bearing that in mind, I have him ranked as the fifth best 3rd baseman behind ARod, Longoria, Zimmerman, and Reynolds. Of course your league’s scoring system can affect that as well. In my “experts only” (self proclaimed) dynasty league (which has 12 offensive categories, and as such downplays the SB factor) Wright probably ranks behind Sandoval and possibly even Michael Young (depending on whether you are competing for the title this next year or not).

      In a yearly league, I probably don’t draft Wright in in the first 3-4 rounds. In an auction league, I let someone else bid full value for him. It’s all about value, and he’s not a good value right now, unless you draft him later or pay a bargain price for him.

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      • jimbo says:

        Thanks Tim. That makes a lot of sense, and is ample rationale to drop him at the very least behind Zimmerman.

        Why in the world would they build a park MORE cavernous than Shea? (For that matter, I don’t see why teams don’t adjust the fences season by season to match their team composition…)

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  10. Southsider says:

    His contact rate was down 3%, though he wasn’t fishing all that much in comparison to career marks. Just an off year all around.

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    • Tim L. says:

      Actually, his contact rate was down about 7-8%…from his typical 81-82% contact rate, he was at about 74% for the year. Dave mentioned he saw something mechanical ( the shoulder hitch – though most power hitters do have some kind of “loading mechanism” which often involves turning their front shoulder “in” prior to the pitchers delivery) which may be contributing. That may very well be the case.

      I think it could also be mental. Greg Rybarczyk of Hit Tracker noted that 9 of Wright’s 33 HR in 2008 were either “barely enough” (cleared the fence by 10 feet or less) or “lucky” (would not have cleared the fence without the aid or wind or other conditions on a 70 degree day, and that his average HR distance was 399 feet. And accoring to Marc Normandin of ESPN prior to the 2009, the Citifield fences would play 20-30 feet farther in the power alleys and center field because of dimensions and wall height. It seems pretty easy to conclude that Wright, more than other power hitters who hit longer HR’s, would be affected significantly by the home ballpark. Wright’s not dumb – he can see that it takes more to hit it out. I think it is possible that Wright, as an all-star middle of the order bat has been gearing up to hit the ball farther, wanting to live up to his past successes, and of course wanting to help his team win. The plate approach was affected, with less contact. It is also probable that increased effort to launch HR’s led to the very mechanical problems that Dave alluded to.

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  11. Dave says:

    Wright’s power struggles were all mechanical, I’ve looked at a lot of film, as well as watching his BP sessions throughout the year. His swing developed a hitch because he started to turn his back on the pitcher prior to delivery and never fixed this all year, up until actually the final series of the year, in which I noticed it go away some.

    Citi Field was incorrectly characterized as a pitcher’s park based on a 2-month sample (April/May) when balls were dying there. But through the summer, the ball flew out. It should be a fair park for pitchers and hitters, and the Mets can use it as a selling point for both potential pitcher and hitter signings.

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    • jimbo says:

      Mechanical you say? Maybe he should hook up with Ben Zobrist’s hitting instructor…

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    • Tim L. says:

      “It should be a fair park for pitchers and hitters, and the Mets can use it as a selling point for both potential pitcher and hitter signings.”


      A neutral park is just that – neutral…To me, a neutral ballpark is not a selling point for either hitters or pitchers, and neither does it hurt you. If it’s nuetral and you try to sell it to a hitter, the agent can respond that there is probably 10 parks that are better hitting environments. Same thing if you try to sell a nuetral park to pitcher. The Mets will sell New York, ability to spend money, etc…and park, if it is in fact neutral, won’t hurt.

      Not sure if its neutral anyway. Somebody earlier commented that the sample size is still small enough to not yet draw conclusions, especially given the makeup of this year’s Mets and their injuries. It seems that just from the dimensions it should play much tougher in terms of hitting homeruns. We’ll know more in 2 more years.

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  12. Dan says:

    The answer is obvious: He’s lying about his age. He must be at least 33.

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  13. Batman says:

    “The answer is obvious: He’s lying about his age. He must be at least 33.”

    That’s the ticket – his real name is “David Sí.”

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