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Can David Wright Bounce Back?

Mets third baseman David Wright will most likely be drafted between the 12th and 18th pick in your 2010 fantasy league.  If you have a pick or two in that range, your decision whether to draft him could affect your team's chances greatly.  In 2009 drafts Wright seemed like a safe choice at 3rd overall, yet his .307-10-72-88-27 line had some labeling him a bust at year's end.

Was Wright truly a bust?  According to ESPN's Player Rater he ranked 7th among third basemen and 64 among all players.  Obviously he was a letdown in the power categories, but if you blame this pick for losing your league you're just making excuses. 

More importantly, what can we expect from Wright in 2010?  You may recall that Wright was struck in the head by a Matt Cain fastball on August 15th, an injury that he admitted remained in the back of his head a month later.  Wright told Newsday's Anthony Rieber, "You see a ball that kind of comes up and in, it makes you flinch a little more than normal."  The symptoms from that injury caused Wright to dip to 535 ABs in '09, so we'll assume he jumps back to his typical 600.  As for the mental aspect, we can only guess whether the time off will straighten him out.  Wright had his worst month of the season after returning from the beaning in September.

Projection systems don't know about the mental side of the Cain beaning.  They also can't tell us whether moving to Citi Field got into Wright's head.  Assuming 600 ABs, here are three projected lines:

  • Baseball HQ: .295-20-96-103-23
  • Bill James:  .302-23-99-100-24
  • CHONE: .305-24-104-102-21

Very similar results...they're all just penalizing him for '09 by predicting fewer than 25 HRs.  But more simply, Wright averaged 29 HRs in the four seasons prior.  A return to 30 HR is entirely within reach for the 27-year-old.  Any logical forecaster is going to say Wright's power will return and his strikeouts will come back down in 2010.

On the other hand, Citi Field isn't going anywhere.  Greg Rybarczyk of Hit Tracker Online has suggested Wright lost nine home runs to the new park in 2009.  If he'd hit 19 bombs and driven in 85, it would've been easier to write off '09 as a blip.

We've learned that Wright is likely to bounce back to some extent, though he's riskier than ever.  In my tentative batter rankings, Wright is 17th.  I am not one to spring for a pitcher in the first few rounds, so my question is how many hitters I'd rather take than Wright who will not be there for a subsequent pick.  Though my early rankings have 16 hitters above Wright, Holliday, Reyes, and McCann may be available with your following pick.  There are nine players - Pujols, Hanley, Braun, A-Rod, Utley, Kemp, Howard, Cabrera, and Fielder - I'd have to take before Wright.  Beyond that, I'm not convinced that Teixeira, Longoria, Lincecum, Mauer, Kinsler, and Crawford need to go before Wright.

There's my current debate - Teixeira, Longoria, Lincecum, Mauer, Crawford, and Kinsler vs. Wright.  One point in Wright's favor is that he's projected to give balance - above-average contributions in all five categories.  Drafting exactly 12th (in a 12-team league) might make the decision easier, as you could take Wright and one of the six back-to-back.

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