Wright not right in two hole

When I asked to be a part of this site, Wilcox gave me a template to use for my 2007 predictions, but since I came to the party late, I didn’t address one of the topics they did. One of those topics was the prospect of David Wright in the two hole, instead of Paul LoDuca. Both my colleagues were very positive about the experiment which Willie Randolph toyed with the second half of spring training; I, however, not only subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” theory, but I also think, as this team is constituted right now, it would be a move in the wrong direction.While I don’t disagree with the idea of putting your best hitters at the top of the lineup, and while I agree that David Wright is one of the Mets’ best hitters, at this point in his career he fits better in the 5/6 hole than he does up at the top. The biggest issue I had with Wright’s 2006 season, aside from his major slump after the All-Star break, was the obscene amount of full counts he ran. Typically he would fall behind early in the count, and then spend the second half of his at bat fighting off pitches the opposite way. “What’s wrong with that?” I hear ringing in my ears as I type this (the doctors told me this would stop…but they don’t root for the Mets). The problem I have is, we know Wright can take the ball the other way well, but he’s not Mike Piazza; he’s not going to hit the ball 450 feet to right field. If Wright is going to increase his power numbers and become a lock for 30 homeruns a year, he needs to take advantage of pitchers trying to get ahead of him early with a fastball. Hitting behind Reyes would cause him to continue to be overly selective. Wright needs to bat at a place in the lineup where he can grow as a hitter. I don’t think any Mets fan wants to concede that Wright will be a .300 20 100 player. We don’t want Fonzie at his best, we want better.

For those of you who want stats and other silly stuff like that, I’m sure Wilcox can give you them, but as just a free thinking Mets fan, I am perfectly happy with the lineup card the Amazins’ handed Gary Cederstrom Sunday night. And look, if you still aren’t satisfied with it, we all now LoDuca isn’t playing 162 games this year, so when he’s on the bench Willie can move Wright up to the number 2 hole…so let’s not freak out too early. Hey, they’re on pace for 162-0 so don’t complain…leave that garbage in the Bronx.

5 Responses to “Wright not right in two hole”

  1. Chris Wilcox says:

    As you are aware, I disagree with everything you just said. First of all, selectivity is a trait of a power hitter. Look at the all-time leaders in walks. Also take a look at the year-to-year leaders in walks. Typically, there is a strong correlation between the top walk-takers in the league and the top power hitters. Why? Because power hitters are willing to wait up there until they get a pitch to drive. David Wright’s selectivity at the plate is a sign that he is one day going to be a pretty good power hitter, one whose ceiling is probably 40 homers a year.

    It is also that overly selectiveness that makes him an ideal fit to hit behind Reyes. Reyes and Lo Duca are not known for their ability to take walks, even though Reyes has improved there. Selectivity earlier in the batting order not only tires out the pitcher a little bit, but it exposes what the pitcher has to the rest of the lineup. More selectivity at the time of the order means the rest of the Mets’ lineup can better see what that pitcher has on that day and can prepare for him better. Having a guy who takes pitches at the top of the order can only improve the rest of the team.

    Then there’s the issue I discussed, where the Mets’ best hitters should hit as early in the lineup as possible. Right now, the Mets’ top three hitters are Beltran, Wright, and Reyes, in that order. Two of the three hit early in the lineup – the other hits in the middle. The Mets would score more runs by having their top three hitters hit as much as possible. Wright in the #2 hole means more plate appearances for him, which would ideally lead to more runs scored for the Mets. Wright in the 5 hole is borderline a waste of Wright, especially because Lo Duca simply is not as good a hitter as Wright. It isn’t a huge differential, but getting Wright to the plate more would only help the Mets.

  2. Joeadig says:

    I change my mind on this one just about every day. It would certainly help Reyes and Beltran and Delgado to have Wright hit second, but now I’m worried about the lower end of the order. Let’s face it: LoDuca, Green, Valentine, and the pitcher’s spot don’t exactly strike fear into the opposition. But when you move LoDuca (who has admittedly done a great job with the 2 Hole since he’s been a Met) back to where he normally hits, the bottom of the order doesn’t look that bad; at worst, it’s a single inning of low-level hitters.

    This is a tough one, and I’m glad that Willie has to make the call and not me. (Then again, I’d gladly make the decisions if I were getting his salary.)

  3. Chris Wilcox says:

    The thing is, and statistic studies have bore this out, teams would on average score more runs with their best hitters hitting at the top of the lineup than they would hitting 3-5, or however a manager would choose to arrange them. Whatever negative effect the team would have from having their worst hitters bunched together would be negated by their best hitters hitting more frequently. It’s not much, it might only amount to one win per season above what they would have received, but it is still preferable from hitting a guy who is, at worst the team’s 2nd best hitter, in the 5 spot, when the guy currently in the 2 hole is probably the team’s sixth best hitter (assuming Lo Duca is better than Shawn Green, which may be a stretch).

  4. MikeGrim says:

    Here is my point…until it is proven in reality, not just historical stats, then I don’t see the need to change things. My opinions on Wright’s development as a hitter aside, I think for now the best thing to do is leave things as they are. And if Willie were overwhelmed with Wright’s performance and fit in the two hole, he would have kept him there.

    Like I said, LoDuca, if healthy, will play about 120 games, Wright will play 150 (if healthy). Plus, with all the things that happen throughout a season, there’s no reason to pull a Charlie Manuel and change the lineup in game one (though at least Willie tried his idea out before a game that counted).

    Lastly, I just believe with LoDuca hitting in the 7 or 8 it puts yet another singles/doubles hitter down there, with less chance of scoring runs than in front of power hitters in the middle of the order.

  5. Chris Wilcox says:

    I think Wright would have had to have hit .600 in the 2 hole to be permanently moved there last season – Willie just doesn’t make a lot of lineup changes. And while there is something to be said for writing a solid, steady lineup card, rather than needlessly jiggling the lineup every day the way Charlie Manuel does, I do think there is a happy medium that can be established. I’ve thought for close to a year now that Reyes/Wright/Beltran/Delgado is the Mets’ best top of the order lineup, because it gets the most plate appearances for the Mets’ best hitters, and Wright is being wasted in the five spot. It is, at best, a gamble that Lo Duca will give the team the same production in the 2 hole that he did last year.

    I also don’t get worrying about the bottom of the order. You want your worst hitters batting less. Any runs that the Mets would lose having mediocre hitters batting 6-9 would be more than negated by having more plate appearances for Wright, hitting between Reyes and Beltran. Hitting in the two hole would also be beneficial for Wright, who I think could put up MVP-calibre numbers hitting between Reyes and Beltran, more than he could hitting between Delgado and Alou.

    Then there is the matchup factor; a team would almost have to use their lefty relievers against Delgado exclusively, because Reyes and Beltran could turn around and bat righty, and most teams would not want a lefty pitching to Wright or Alou. From a matchup standpoint, most teams would struggle to use their matchup guys against a lineup that staggered.

    It’s an experiment that I’m hoping isn’t completely dead. When Castro makes his first start, I am hoping they move Wright into the two hole. I fully believe that is the best place for him on this Mets team right now, and could easily mean another couple of wins in the standings, simply by bringing him to the plate more often.

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