Originally posted on Around Citi  |  Last updated 5/29/13
When David Wright’s career is over, he’ll undoubtedly be considered the greatest New York Met of all-time. The accomplishments throughout his first nine professional seasons speak for themselves: The franchise’s all-time leader in hits, extra-base hits, runs created, total bases, runs scored, walks, and eventually home runs and games played, Wright could very well find himself in Cooperstown one day if he continues along a fairly standard career trajectory over his eight-year contract. While David Wright’s value is immeasurable to a slumping Mets franchise, he compares quite well with another All-Star third baseman who is looking back at a fantastic career: Scott Rolen. Rolen, now 37-years-old, has yet to officially file for retirement but is just about done with a fantastic, borderline Hall of Fame career. Just how similar are the two players? A quick look at traditional statistics will show a lot of similarities through their first nine professional seasons: Scott Rolen (1996-2004, 1,195 G): .286/.378/.520,  296 2B, 204 HR, 131 OPS+, 47.9 fWAR David Wright: (2004-2012, 1,262 G): .301/.381/.506, 322 2B, 204 HR, 135 OPS+, 44.2 fWAR The comparisons are definitely staggering. Although Wright appeared in 67 more games than Rolen during the sample, the means for comparison were from their major league debut through the completion of their ninth full professional season. Rolen possessed a slightly higher SLG% than Wright, but the two had nearly identical on-base percentages, identical home run totals, and only a four point difference in OPS+. fWAR puts Rolen’s first nine seasons ahead of Wright’s by a margin of just about four wins. So what truly separates the two players? Wright had the greater tendency to bounce into double plays as he did so 115 times as opposed to Rolen’s 87. Those additional outs add up, and therein lies one advantage that Rolen possesses over Wright.   What about stolen bases?, Wright was slightly more efficient on the base paths, stealing 166-of-220 bags (or a 75.45% success rate) compared to Rolen’s 91-of-124 (73.38% success rate). It’s still too close of a call, although Wright did steal more often. Rolen holds one noticeable advantage over Wright: Strikeouts. Rolen struck out nearly 70 times less than Wright, but then again, the sample being used accounts for Wright playing in 65 more games. During Rolen’s 2005 season in which he appeared in only 56 games, he struck out 28 times. So again, there isn’t much of a difference. Essentially, the two players have been nearly identical throughout the first nine seasons of their career. Rolen’s career would slowly tail off following his 2004 season as his combined 21.2 fWAR over his next (and final) six seasons was less than his previous three (2002-2004). Wright has, to this point, shown an incredible iron horse ability to stay healthy until this point in his career. Ultimately, Wright should have the better career when all things are said and done assuming injuries don’t come into play. To this point in 2013, Wright has earned a 2.5 fWAR and is posting numbers right in line with his career norms (not to mention, he is only seven games removed from eclipsing Rolen’s 2005 game total). The two may have similar statistics through their first nine seasons, but let’s be very clear: Scott Rolen is no David Wright. To project what Rolen’s career may have been had it not been hammered with injuries may indeed be looking at Wright’s career, but the two seemingly go hand-in-hand. Photo Credit: Michael Baron
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