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Friday, May 7, 2010
Whatever happened to ...

By Mark Simon

There have been a couple of things missing from Metdom recently, two in particular have been brought to our attention recently. Maybe this homestand is when they’re re-discovered, both by the Mets and by their fans alike.

Whatever happened to the walk-off home run?

The Mets got burned by walk-off home runs twice in a three-day span against the Reds, giving Aaron Boone a chance to brag on Baseball Tonight about how he and the 1999 Reds invented the walk-off home run celebratory hop (Those Reds lost to the Mets in a one-game playoff for the wild card spot). 

This brought to mind the query: Where did all the Mets walk-off homers go?

The Mets haven’t hit a walk-off home run yet at Citi Field, and after this series with the Giants, they’ll have played 100 games there.

Last season marked a Mets rarity -- they went walk-off homerless for only the fourth time in Mets history. The other three years without a walk-off home run: 1973, 1979, and the strike-shortened campaign of 1994.

The Mets have gone 21 months without a walk-off home run. The last time they went longer- a 22-month, 23-day drought that ended with a walk-off grand slam by Chris Jones against Trevor Hoffman and the Padres on May 31, 1995.

For the record, they’ve hit eight in the regular season against the Giants (plus one in the postseason by Benny Agbayani), most recently on May 29, 2007 when Carlos Delgado hit a game-ender to conclude a game that Jose Reyes famously tied by drawing a balk from former Met Armando Benitez.

The Mets last walk-off home run was hit by David Wright, the first of his career, against the Padres, on August 7, 2008, and that brings us to our next question…

Whatever happened to David Wright and out-of-the-strike-zone pitches?

Adam Rubin’s right. David Wright seems to be shaking out of the funk he was in during the early part of the season.

But there’s still one thing missing from Wright’s game.

Over the last three weeks, my colleague who helps prep Jon Miller, Joe Morgan and Orel Hershiser for the Sunday night telecasts, Katie Sharp, and I have been poring through Mets notes looking for points of discussion with the games best players.

Katie found a doozy about a week ago, supporting our statistical analysis on David Wright and it still holds true entering the homestand.

Since David Wright returned from the beaning last September, do you know how many hits he’s gotten on pitches that were judged (by the Inside Edge video review team) to be out of the strike zone?

One.

A single to right field against Braves starter Jair Jurrjens last September 17th.

Wright was 1-for-24 in at-bats that ended in a pitch out of the strike zone in September and October of 2009. He’s 0-for-19 so far in 2010 (think of all the times you’ve seen him whiff on a pitch down-and-away, and this should make sense).

Now you might ask: How often should a major leaguer get hits on pitches out of the strike zone? In Wright’s case, this is actually something that he had decent skill at doing.

Last season, prior to the beaning, Wright had 16 hits and a .222 batting average on pitches out of the strike zone.  That was a step up from 2008 in which he had 18 hits and a .167 batting average.

Either case is respectably better than the major league average of .141. But Wright’s not even to that point yet in 2010.