David Wright hasn’t reproduced his amazing seasons from 2005 to 2008 and his ability was called into question after last season’s 10 home run performance. There’s a few things to blame for that, one being he suffered a pretty brutal injury on Aug. 15 when a fastball hit him right in the noggin (yeah, remember that?). He had to miss 18 games, whereas in previous years he played almost all 162. He hit eight home runs before the incident and only two after.
That would account for some, but Aug. 15 is still more than half-way through the year. So when he averaged 30 home runs between 2005 and 2008, he would have finished with only 15 all things permitting in 2009.
One thing that was brought up was the change from Shea Stadium to Citifield.
I thought that made the most logical sense, since Citi is a pretty good pitcher’s park, but B-R park factors have them at about equal (even though a three-year sample size is necessary for judgment, we’ll just assume 98 was average for Citi).
Let’s test it out anyway.
Here’s where the outfield lines begin and end for both fields:
The power alleys for Shea were symmetrical: 338/378/410/378/338. Because the home run line for Citi is a little wonky (damn McBallparks), it looks like this: 335/371-384/408/415-378/330.
So even though we’re closer in on the foul poles, you can see on the outlines above that left-center is about 10 feet further back than Shea and right-center is … well, just crazy.
David Wright is a right-handed hitter and hits most of his home runs on pull.
In 2008, this is where his home runs went.
And in 2009?
You can see for yourself a number of his homers in 2008 fell well short of 400 feet and it looks like five or maybe even more were in that exact drop spot between Shea and Citi in left-center and right-center.
It also looks like Wright was unlucky in 2009, though. One home run under 380? That doesn’t look right. The guy does play 81 games on the road.
Tristan Cockcroft at ESPN and Greg Rybarczyk of Hit Tracker talked about it and Rybarczyk pointed out Citifield’s tremendously tall outfield walls (16 feet tall) are also a detriment to hitters with power.
“The 16-foot fence in left field at Citi Field is not only much deeper than the left-field fence at Shea Stadium, it is 8 feet taller, which equates to about another 6 feet of distance.”
Combine that with the fact that Wright is a tremendous line drive hitter and you start to see the full picture.
Truth is he was probably a little unlucky last year. All 10 of his home runs from 2009 went farther than 380 feet. Only one seemed to find the foul pole. Even if you account for Citifield, he does play in other parks. He has a lot of games at Citizen Bank.
Right now, Wright has three home runs on the season, on pace for about 22-25. That’s where ZiPS has him and that sounds about right.
And yet, he’s still putting up an above-average batting average and on-base percentage. Man is he good.
I’d like to see him in a different park, though. The Astrodome took a lot of power away from many great hitters, like Jimmy Wynn and Jeff Bagwell and Joe Morgan. Maybe moving away from the Mets is in his best interest.