By Joe Giglio
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Upon signing an eight-year, $138 million contract, David Wright became the highest paid Met in franchise history. Months later, another title has been bestowed upon the third baseman: team captain.
On Thursday, Jeff Wilpon, Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins made an official announcement on what has been seen as a formality since the contract was signed.
Moving forward, Wright will be mentioned in the same breath with former Mets captains, joining Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and John Franco.
While the title and the contract will endear Wright to Mets faithful for generations, it’s his on-field performance that will one day separate him from the pack.
Wright isn’t just “Captain America” or Mr. Met or the fourth captain in franchise history. He has a chance to go down as the greatest player in franchise history.
Despite only being a franchise for a little over 50 years, the Mets have grown or acquired some outstanding individual talent. Between Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Darryl Strawberry, Hernandez, Carter, Mike Piazza, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, a slew of current, future or borderline Hall of Famers have worn the uniform since 1962.
Factoring in production, captaincy and willingness to sign and stay long-term, Wright can pass them all to become the greatest Met of all-time. Although Wright has never won an MVP, batting title or individual award, his remarkable consistency through the first half of his career has led to stellar ranks on all-time franchise marks.
Through age 29, the following are Wright’s ranks on the Mets’ franchise leaderboard:
Batting Average: .301 — 2nd
On-base percentage: .381 — 4th
Slugging percentage: .506 — 3rd
On-base plus slugging: .887 — 3rd
Games played: 1,262 — 3rd
Runs scored: 790 — 1st
Hits: 1,426 — 1st
Total bases: 2,398 — 1st
Doubles: 322 — 1st
Home runs: 204 — 3rd
Runs batted in: 818 — 1st
Bases on balls: 616 — 1st
Stolen bases: 166 — 5th
Career WAR: 39.1 — 1st
Wright just isn’t a great Met; he’s on pace to put up Hall of Fame-caliber career numbers. With 1,426 career hits, the new Mets captain is a prime candidate to reach the 3,000-hit plateau in the future. Among players since 1901, Wright’s 1,426 hits rank 19th over the first nine seasons of a career.
The names ahead of him on that list include Frank Robinson, Roberto Alomar, Eddie Murray, Pete Rose, Derek Jeter, Miguel Cabrera, Hank Aaron and Albert Pujols.
Of course, any conversation that involves the moniker “greatest Met of all-time” will come back to two things: Seaver and winning a World Series.
Is Wright a more prolific baseball players than Seaver? No, and he never will be, either. No matter the career that Wright unfolds for fans in New York, Cooperstown won’t vote him in with a higher percentage than “Tom Terrific.”
But he can piece together the entire career in New York — something that Seaver couldn’t. The trade that sent him away in June of 1977 still haunts Met fans, but it’s part of the story. Seaver wasn’t a career Met. Wright can be.
If the rebuilding Mets can rise up, become a contender and win a championship under Wright’s wing, it could cement his case. Even if they don’t, it doesn’t change the player he is or will become.
WFAN airwaves are often full of callers lamenting the perils of buying a ticket to Citi Field as the team rebuilds. Even if the losses pile up in ‘13 and beyond, there’s a reason to attend: Odds are that the greatest Met ever is standing at third base.
That’s quite a bold statement? Are you buying it? Let us know in the comments section below…