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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.

nym1

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:

nym2

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.