Following his 2010 season, David Wright was clearly on track to be a Hall of Fame third baseman and he would have been a wearing a Mets hat if inducted.
Unfortunately, after two more outstanding seasons and two that disappointed, he was diagnosed at 32 years old with lumbar spinal stenosis, which has forced him to miss 89 percent of the team's last 643 games.
Had he never injured himself in early 2011 (when a stress fracture sparked his eventual spine condition) at the very least, there would have been a vigorous debate among fans and media about Wright's Hall of Fame candidacy.
The fact is, even after the 2011 hamstring injury and stress fracture, only Albert Pujols, Chase Utley, Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Beltre had produced more WAR among his contemporaries since Wright entered the league in 2004.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, among modern third baseman in their age-29 season, Wright most compared to Scott Rolen, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Eric Chavez and Chipper Jones.
Beltre and Jones continued to produce above and beyond the current 75 WAR threshold you find when looking at current Hall of Fame third basemen. Rolen ended right on the line, which is also where you'll find Longoria, who is still playing at 32 years old.
The point is, even as recently as 2013 -- at 30 years old --Wright was on pace with and trending in the same general direction as Jones, who was elected to the Hall of Fame this past summer. In some ways, Wright's career trajectory is similar to Don Mattingly's with the Yankees, in terms of production and eventual injuries leading to a downfall.
"Obviously, I'm very honored to have been able to manage him," Terry Collins recently told the NY Post about Wright. "I managed three Hall of Famers [Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Eddie Murray] and he could do everything they could do, if not more."
Unfortunately, there are a large number of BBWAA members that still lean only on traditional stat totals when deciding who should or shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.
In those categories, it's possible Wright might have fallen short of their respect.
He had already been to the All-Star Game five times by the time he was 29, while also winning two Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Swards. He is also likely to end up with a career .296 batting average, all of which would have impressed the old-school voter.
On the other hand, when again comparing Wright to Jones, Beltre, Chavez, and Rolen, as well as non-third base position players like Carlos Beltran, even if Wright had remained mostly healthy between 2015 and 2020, he likely would have fallen a few hundred hits short of 3,000; 50 or so home runs short of 400; and roughly 500 RBI short of 1,500.
The same results bear out when using Wright's post-30 year old, modern-day comparables, such as Andrew McCutchen, Robinson Cano and Beltran.
The thing is, by being on the border, Wright had two important intangibles that may have put him over the end since each gets a disproportionate level of influence by Hall of Fame voters.
For instance, recent explanation of their ballots indicate voters value legacy and stature in the game and with that player's respective team. And, regardless of how things played out for him, by 2015, Wright already had the most runs scored, hits, doubles, games played, at-bats, doubles, RBI, walks and total bases in Mets history, not to mention picking up the nickname Captain America during two appearances in the World Baseball Classic.
Furthermore, by the end of 2015, Wright had become the only player ever to suit up in multiple postseason games, multiple World Series games, start multiple All-Star Games and play his entire career for the Mets.
Lastly, and possibly most important, Wright always had and still does have a terrific relationship with the local and national media.
Frankly, to a reporter, I know no one that has covered Wright that doesn't label him as classy, humble, respectful and giving of his time (be it to charity, fans or to media). I can speak to this, personally. In the 15 years I have known him, David has almost never turned down a request from me to do an interview, pick his brain or just catch up about family and baseball.
The point is, if the above traits ruled the day, Wright would have been a no-brainer for the Hall, at least based on how much reporters seem to value respect and accessibility.
Also in recent years, dozens of high-profile BBWAA voters have either locked out or delayed voting for players that have been linked to using performance enhancing drugs -- specifically Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. And, given his upbringing, respect for the game and the recent breakdown of his body, I think it's safe to assume Wright never took part in PEDs, which Hall of Fame voters likely would have applauded.
Based on all of the above, plus the fact that current Hall of Fame voters had been consistently putting his name down as an MVP candidate as recently as 2012, I see plenty of evidence indicating Wright would have found his way in to Cooperstown.
Unfortunately, instead of debating whether he should be in the Hall of Fame, he and we are left to wonder whether he could have been in the Hall of Fame. And, sadly, we'll never get to know...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!