Monday, March 27, 2017

Will Wright Recover?

Another devastating injury has placed Wright's future in doubt (Sporting News)
Spring Training is supposed to be a time for optimism, especially for baseball's fallen stars. Players are in the best shape of their lives, eager to prove they can still hack it. Last year's slumps are in the past. There's hope that Jason Heyward and Pablo Sandoval will hit again, that Matt Harvey and Sonny Gray will rediscover their dominance. Everyone has a clean slate, and even the most unlikely comebacks seem possible (remember Grady Sizemore?).

For David Wright, however, this spring has brought only more pain and misery. He hasn't been able to throw since being diagnosed with a right shoulder impingement in late February, and likely won't be able to until the Mets break camp. Wright will stay behind in Florida, where he'll once again set down the road to recovery.

But as the 34-year-old works his way back from yet another injury, scribes have called his future into question while simultaneously reminding us how great he used to be. When the news was first announced, ESPN wondered if Wright was finished. SI lamented how his body began falling apart just as the Mets started coming together.

Wright's career arc has been tragic, marked by late-season collapses, poor supporting casts, and debilitating injuries that have prevented him from logging a full season since 2012 and derailed what was shaping up to be a Hall of Fame career. They've caused him to age more like Scott Rolen than Adrian Beltre, limiting him to a .266/.339/.396 (107 OPS+) slash line and 3.0 bWAR over the past three seasons combined. He can no longer play the field, doesn't contribute on the bases and is merely average at the plate, which are all problems for a guy earning $20 million a year.

Still, all this talk of Wright's demise seems premature. He still has three years remaining on his contract beyond 2017 and is closer to 30 than 40. Even if he sits the entire year out, he could still conceivably return next year and be productive at 35. While most of his skills have deteriorated, his pop and patience are still intact (as evidenced by his .212 ISO and 15.9 percent walk rate last year), so he's not totally useless. He'd have more value to an American League team as a DH, but this winter revealed the demand for his skill set to be at an all-time low.

It wasn't too long ago that Wright was one of the most desirable players in baseball, a five-tool third basemen seemingly destined for Cooperstown. Now he's on the sidelines again, and one has to wonder how much suffering he'll go through before deciding to stay there.

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