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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
W2W4: David Wright in 2013

By Mark Simon

US Presswire/Howard SmithNow that he's signed, David Wright can focus on the future.
Now that David Wright is signed for the long term, let's look ahead to the short term and a few stats that will be key to Wright being not just highly paid, but highly valued this coming season and beyond.

Hitting
The graphic on the right shows the difference in Wright’s production from the first half to the second half of 2012.
The one to be most mindful of is that last number -- Wright’s chase rate.

In the first half of 2012, Wright had what was by all accounts a great approach at the plate. He waited pitchers out until they made the mistake of throwing into his comfort zone -- over the inner half.

In the second half, particularly as the Mets started to flounder, Wright reverted back to some of the tendencies that were present during his struggles the past couple of seasons.

He was particularly vulnerable to the outside pitch. His chase rate on pitches that were out of the strike zone away (defined as being on the outer-third of the plate or off the outside corner) ballooned from 12 percent to 22 percent.

This killed Wright in two-strike situations. He hit .267 with a .794 OPS with two strikes prior to the All-Star break, but .200 with a .554 OPS afterwards.

Wright’s chase rate will likely play a large role in determining the hitter he is over the next few seasons. The Mets want that number to be closer to 18 percent than 25 percent.

Defense
If you thought that Wright was a much more reliable defender in 2012, just about every defensive metric showed that to be true.

Wright’s preseason work with Tim Teufel on getting into a pre-pitch ready position paid off hugely, as Wright led National League third basemen in Defensive Runs Saved (which measures the ability to turn batted balls into outs, defend bunts and turn double plays).

We’ve all seen Wright make his fair share of Web Gems and get outs on balls you think he shouldn’t. That continued to be true last season.

But where Wright improved was in getting outs on balls where he should get outs.

Fangraphs tracks a stat known as “Revised Zone Rating” (RZR) which shows how frequently a fielder gets outs on balls hit to areas in which outs are turned more than half the time.

Wright finished the season with a career-best .750 RZR, up from .687 from 2010 to 2012.

What was that improvement worth over the course of a season?

The 63-point jump translated into another 17 balls turned into outs that previously were not.

Now the onus is on Wright to maintain that, as well as Teufel to make sure Wright holds true to what he was taught.

Baserunning
Wright was very adept and efficient at stealing bases early in his career, netting a 79 percent success rate in his first six major league seasons. In his first five full years, he averaged 23 successful swipes per year.

But in his past three, Wright’s rate has dropped to 67 percent, including a career-low 60 percent in 2012 -- a year in which he was 15-for-25 stealing bases and was picked off five times by the opposing pitcher or catcher.

Though Wright’s overall speed may be in decline, he still seems to know what he is doing on the basepaths. Baseball-Reference.com charts how often a player takes an extra base on a base hit (ie: goes first to third, second to home, or first to home).

Wright’s 48 percent extra-bases taken rate was his best since his 52 percent mark in 2007.

A scout who checked in on the Mets multiple times in 2012 verified this, noting that “he gets more out of his speed than most others, as he has some baserunning IQ.”

The good news about baseball IQ is that it isn't likely to diminish. But it will be up to Wright to make sure it is used in the best manner possible.