6 reasons David Wright belongs in the Hall of Fame

January 1st, 2024

's Hall of Fame case, like his playing career, is largely overshadowed by questions of what could have been. But bad luck doesn't tell his entire story, and he shouldn't be a one-and-done player.

One of the best third basemen of his era in his nine-year prime, Wright was a seven-time All-Star, took home two Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards, put up a few strong National League MVP cases and led an oft-maligned club in a major media market before having his momentum slowed by injuries. His body of work was short, but it certainly wasn't lacking.

As Wright hits the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for the first time in 2024, here’s a look at six reasons why he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

1. Wright stacks up better than you think
Through no fault of his own, Wright appears to be fighting an uphill battle here. But looking strictly at his performance, his odds look pretty good. Wright had a career OPS+ of 133 over 1,585 games. Of the 96 players in AL/NL history who played at least 1,500 games and have an OPS+ of 133 or higher, 60 of them are in the Hall of Fame. Another nine are still active or are too recently retired to have hit the ballot yet, and four more (Todd Helton, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield) are still on the ballot. That leaves less than a quarter of the group definitely out, and controversy surrounding alleged steroid use was the deciding factor for several more still. By that standard, Wright is already in.

2. Wright was among the best of his generation
In his prime, Wright was a certifiable superstar. From 2005-13, he averaged 145 games a year, with a .302/.384/.505 slash line and 23 home runs, 93 RBIs and 20 stolen bases per season. Wright's numbers look just as good, if not better, when compared with the rest of the league; over those nine seasons, he ranked eighth in hits, seventh in runs scored, 10th in RBIs and sixth in doubles among all Major Leaguers, while making seven of nine NL All-Star teams and earning four top-10 finishes in the NL MVP Award voting.

3. Wright is still the face of a franchise
For expansion teams, even those that existed before free agency, true franchise players are hard to come by. The Mets have the same long record of icons acquired late or lost on the open market, doing nothing to diminish their legacies in New York but hurting their odds of being remembered later as the cornerstones of the franchise.

That context is pretty critical here. Before Wright, the Mets didn't have another iconic player who never took the field in another uniform. His 1,585 games with the Mets are the second most in franchise history behind Ed Kranepool, and he ended his career holding the franchise record for hits, runs scored, total bases, doubles, RBIs, walks, sac flies and extra-base hits. All told, Wright has the highest fWAR for a Mets position player (51.2 fWAR), trailing only Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden overall.

Consider, too, that the Mets have been good, and have had great players, since Wright's prime. Even so, it's hard to argue that any of them has really supplanted him as the main Met of the 21st century, especially considering how many of their journeys would eventually take them out of New York. After Wright, the best Met by career fWAR is Brandon Nimmo, at 22.1 through his first eight seasons. Nimmo ranks ninth among Mets position players in career fWAR overall -- 17th when counting pitchers. That was -- and still is -- something special, and that Wright remains that guy is a bigger deal than we might be giving him credit for.

4. Wright is one of the best third basemen in MLB history
There are 14 AL/NL players in the Hall of Fame who played at least 50% of their games at third base (another two spent their career in the Negro Leagues). And while they're all of different eras and had different styles, that's a big enough sample size to compare Wright against. If he were made the 15th member of that group, here's how his career figures would stack up:

Games played: 1,585 (11th)
Average: .296 (Ninth)
OBP: .376 (Tied for fourth)
SLG: .491 (Fourth)
OPS: .867 (Fourth)
Hits: 1,777 (13th)
Homers: 242 (Eighth)
Career bWAR: 49.2 (10th)

Even in terms of Wright's counting stats -- the weakest element of his case -- that's a club he fits into.

5. Wright's case isn't a new one …
The average Hall of Famer played 18 Major League seasons, appeared in roughly 2,075 games and collected 2,321 hits in just over 8,700 plate appearances. In this respect, Wright (14 seasons, 1,585 games, 1,777 hits in 6,872 plate appearances) looks a bit lacking.

That said, the average Hall of Fame position player also slashed .303/.377/.468 over his career with an .845 OPS and 223 career home runs. Wright (.296/.376/.491 with an .867 OPS and 242 homers) appears right on the money in terms of what he achieved on the field.

Voters wouldn't be making an exception for him, either. There are players already in the Hall of Fame who made it in after shorter careers by virtue of how well they played in their prime -- think Ralph Kiner (1,472 games over 10 seasons), Joe Gordon (1,566 games in 11 seasons), Tony Oliva (1,676 games in 15 seasons) or Earle Combs (1,455 games in 12 seasons).

6. … and he's got backup
The perception of what makes a Hall of Famer tends to evolve based on who's up for consideration. On that note, Joe Mauer is hitting the ballot alongside Wright. Mauer played 1,858 games, just 921 of which were behind the plate. If we're still talking about this a few years down the line, Buster Posey, who will become eligible in 2027, played 1,371. Their cases are unique -- a difference of 200 to 500 games is no small thing -- but they're worth comparing.

Catchers don't tend to get dinged because of concerns over their longevity the way other position players do. Wright, obviously, wasn't a catcher. But all three spent their entire career with the club that drafted them. All three were the cornerstone of the team they were on and walked away with some combination of franchise records, postseason success and league-wide accolades. All three built an outstanding resume and were on track to have legendary careers before they were derailed or otherwise impeded by major injuries. Wright is, somewhat notably, the only one named the captain of his team (bearing in mind that neither the Giants nor the Twins have named a team captain since at least the 1980s).

So it begs the question -- if those considerations could be enough for his contemporaries, why not Wright?