At 30-years-old in his 10th professional season in the major leagues, David Wright has earned the distinction as the King of New York. He is the most valuable position player in the city in 2013 just the same as he was in 2008, and when comparing his first body of work to Derek Jeter’s first 10 seasons, it’s close to undeniable to proclaim that Wright hasn’t been at or above Jeter’s level for the entirety of his career.
The Virginia native may not have the grandeur of World Series rings to showcase in his bachelor pad or the spotlight that the Yankees have rightfully deserved for the better part of the last two decades. Five World Series Championships speak volumes. While Jeter was unarguably a tremendous asset to the Yankee dynasty, Wright has actually been a better player than Jeter from his age 21-30 seasons.
Age 21-30 Seasons
Derek Jeter (1,366 G): .315/.385/.463, .848 OPS, 120 OPS+, 283 2B, 42 3B, 201 SB-79.4% Successful, 42 fWAR
David Wright (1,340 G): .301/.382/.507, .888 OPS, 136 OPS+, 339 2B, 24 3B, 180 SB- 76.6% Successful, 48.5 fWAR
There will be cynics who will attest that Jeter was more valuable to the teams he was on because of his leadership capabilities and infamous intangible qualities that help to better form team chemistry. Those are measures that can’t be accurately quantified and are therefore going to be exempt from the discussion; However, when one looks at the two subjectively it’s easy to see why people would believe that Jeter had the better career. He was the heart throb of the city, a key figure for any sponsorship, part of a winning environment, and ultimately had the flash that appealed to the mass public. Jeter’s electric style of play helped to spawn the hopes and dreams of millions of children who believed that they could one day play shortstop for the New York Yankees. He was, and still is, a superstar.
Despite Fred Wilpon not agreeing with Wright being a superstar, he pulled the right trigger to pay him like one. For anyone to try to place blame on the star third baseman for being anything other than the reason the Mets are somewhat relevant would be near insane. While Jeter may play a more premium position, Wright has him topped in nearly every major offensive category. Advanced metrics seem to prefer Wright’s defense over Jeter’s, but it’s once again hard to properly quantify defense when comparing two players who hold posts at different positions. Wright has simply been more effective at the plate, at his position, and is the unanimous captain of the Mets because of his success. He’s the greatest third baseman in Mets history and the rare type of player that is found once in a generation.
Does Wright have the superstar status and mass appeal that Jeter has? Not currently. While Wright is widely recognizable in New York, Jeter is a legend of the sport and can be recognized most places in the country. Winning breeds fame, and the sooner the Mets can get on track the quicker Wright’s star will build. While it’s a shame that many of Wright’s most productive years have been lost to poor supporting casts, he’s set to be in the limelight as the Mets look to contend for years to come.
Wright debuted during a Yankee dynasty that saw him as a small fish in a big pond in the Big Apple. While Jeter enters the twilight of his career, Wright is ready to take center stage as the King of New York.
Photo Credit: Michael Baron