Mailbag: Was Wright the Mets' MVP?
Beat reporter Marty Noble answers fans' questions
How could you put David Wright ahead of Carlos Delgado as the Mets' most valuable player? Delgado got them back in the race almost singlehandedly, and Wright let them down. Wright never hit big home runs like Delgado did. I'm tired of people in the media trying to make Wright into some kind of superstar when his teammates outproduce him all the time.
-- Sandy F., Westwood, N.J.
So you think Delgado outproduced Wright "all of the time." And that declaration is based on what exactly? No question Delgado had a remarkable run once he began to hit. But that happened on June 27, by which time the Mets had played 77 games, nearly half their season. The argument can be made that though Delgado's run carried them back into the race, the Mets might have been in first place or closer to it -- they had a 38-39 record and were in third place, 3 1/2 games back -- had he had not been invisible in his first 280 at-bats.
At that point, Delgado was in the midst of a poor season, batting .229 with a .306 on-base percentage and a .396 slugging percentage. He had scored 36 runs and driven in 35.
At the same point, Wright had 297 at-bats and had scored 46 runs and driven in 59. His batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage were .276, .373 and .488, respectively. Evidently, your "all the time" doesn't cover that extended period.
Moreover, Wright led the team with 124 RBIs, scored 115 runs (second to Carlos Beltran) and hit 33 home runs. At the same time, Delgado drove in 115 (second to Wright), scored 96 and hit 38 home runs, leading the team in the latter category. If you believe in runs produced (RBIs plus runs minus home runs) -- and I do -- that puts Wright's production at 206 and Delgado's at 173.
Wright never had an extended period in which he was as unproductive as Delgado was before he regained his timing. Wright didn't have his best season. He had batted .304 with a .504 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position in the three previous seasons, and batted .243 and slugged .376 in 2008. But at least some of that decline can be attributed to his batting third for all but seven at-bats and the batters following him -- Beltran and Delgado -- not hitting well for extended periods.
Who was the Mets' MVP?
|A look at the monthly run production and batting average with runners in scoring position of Mets sluggers David Wright and Carlos Delgado|
|Leader in bold|
Now, about the "big" home runs. Delgado hit three that tied the score and seven that gave the Mets a lead. Wright hit two that tied the score ... and 10 that put the Mets ahead.
Beyond all that, Wright runs the bases better than Delgado and, while recognizing the errors Delgado saved Wright, Wright's defense clearly is superior to that which Delgado provided -- even after Delgado's defense appeared to improve after Willie Randolph was dismissed.
I heard you interviewed, and you said you admired Aaron Heilman. What was there to admire? He was the biggest reason the Mets didn't win this year. How do you admire that?
-- Seth H., Morristown, N.J.
Heilman had a poor season, though he hardly was a primary factor in the team's September slide. He pitched 3 2/3 innings in the Mets' final 25 games. But I do admire -- and appreciate -- how he handled himself. He was hurt by his performance, but he was absolutely a stand-up guy about it. Heilman made no excuses, and he wasn't comfortable when manager Jerry Manuel let it be known he had pitched most of the season with tendinitis in his left knee.
I still can't get over how little Endy Chavez has been used. Randolph and Manuel ignored him when he is the best defensive outfielder the Mets have -- I know you agree with that -- and he provides energy. What gives?
-- Roberto D., Bronx, N.Y.
Both managers sensed Chavez is most valuable as a reserve player. Each believed the law of diminishing return applied to Chavez. It's interesting that in 2006 and 2008 he appeared in 133 games, but the difference in at-bats was dramatic -- 353 in '06 and 270 in '08. You're right, I consider Chavez as good an outfielder as any in Mets history -- he and Mike Cameron are at the top -- and the best defensive player, regardless of position, on the roster the last three seasons. But I also sense the Mets' inability to hold a lead prompted Manuel to keep his best offensive players in the game longer than he might have had the bullpen been more reliable.
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I've read that many players not involved in the playoffs don't watch them. Why? Aren't they baseball fans? Shouldn't they want to watch to see how it's done?
-- Allison F., Chicago, Ill.
We can't segment the portion of the player population who watches the playoff series. But I'm sure a percentage of players monitor the results even if they don't watch the games. Players, particularly those from teams that barely missed the cut, are baseball-fatigued by this point in the year. All players have precious few days away from the game from mid-February through the end of September. Some need to get away, just as members of the general public need to vacation, no matter how much they enjoy their jobs.
In the case of the few Mets I have spoken with since the end of the regular season, I suspect the wounds are too fresh for them to watch each game. They can't help but see the Phillies' participation through the prism of "That should be us."
The last weeks of their regular season were grueling and ultimately unrewarding. And even when they were inclined to watch, other responsibilities can stand in the way. Manuel, for example, has moved into a new home, and much of his time has been occupied by that. People involved in the everyday aspect of baseball do have lives outside the game and not as much time as you'd think away from the game.
With all the baseball you've seen, which pitchers would you take if you could name a five-man rotation and one closer, assuming each was at the top of his game, for a five-year period, beginning with 1950?
-- Alan D., Union, N.J.
Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, Warren Spahn, Tom Seaver and Sandy Koufax. Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Jerry Koosman, Johan Santana and Tom Glavine would be the next five. Mariano Rivera would be my closer, and Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz would be warming up, just in case.
You've written several stories about parts of Shea Stadium being sold or taken as souvenirs. Did you get any?
-- Charlie S., Mahwah, N.J.
No, but I would have taken the old parking space assigned to Newsday if I had a chance and moved it to Citi Field. But otherwise, all I have is the memories and a photo Jay Horwitz, the Mets' vice president of media relations, set up -- an in-game scoreboard birthday wish that read "Happy 61st to Marty Noble" when I was 46. It will be quite appropriate soon enough.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.