It was easy to lose sight of David Wright’s accomplishment yesterday, with all the pitching prospects flying around. But let’s take a moment and look at Wright’s 1,500 hits.
He’s become the fastest Met to reach 1,500 hits since… no one. No one in Mets history has ever collected more than 1,418 from Ed Kranepool, and that took the better part of two decades. Needless to say, Jose Reyes was well on his way, but capped his Mets career at 1,300. He’s at 1,499 now, and should get 1,500 shortly after he returns from the disables list.
But let’s not damn Wright with the faint praise “better than Eddie Kranepool”, a solid player, but not at the Hall of Fame-caliber track Wright is on. Hits are a highly imperfect way of evaluating a hitter, since a hitter with more walks gets penalized (see Bobby Abreu’s career totals). I prefer OPS+, where Wright is on a path with the best 3B in the history of the game. Only five third basemen ever have a better OPS+ through age 30: Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs, Mike Schmidt, Chipper Jones and George Brett. If you’re keeping score, that’s four Hall of Famers and a likely fifth when eligible.
And the silly myth that Wright’s career totals are resting on his early totals is just that. His OPS+ in 2012, a star season, was 144. He’s ahead of that in 2013, at 147.
But let’s look at hits, since so many Hall of Fame voters do. If David Wright never played another game, he’d already be 41st ever among third basemen in hits, a few spots above Clete Boyer and Red Rolfe. With roughly 170 hits a year over the next four (his average annual output so far), Wright, by the end of 2016, will check in at 2,106 hits, or 13th ever among third basemen. 3,000 hits would be tough, but not impossible, requiring him to average 170 hits over the life of his eight-year contract, getting him to 2,786 by age 38, with a few part-time seasons necessary to nudge him over the magical mark.
Still, it is instructive that Wright’s career is best viewed through the company he keeps. And the company he keeps is the Hall of Famers at his position.