Last season, New York Mets 3B David Wright had a “power outage”, hitting just 10 HR, after hitting at least 25 in each of his previous four seasons. That has not been a problem in 2010, as Wright has 8 HR already, but his strikeouts have quickly become a concern. Wright leads the majors in strikeouts with 52 and is in the midst of an impressive streak, but not one he is happy about. Through Monday, he has struck out in 14 consecutive games, amassing 24 K in just 53 AB over that span. This bests his streak of 13 consecutive games with a K from earlier this season.
The rest of the season hasn’t been much better for Wright in that department, as he’s recorded a strikeout in 32 of the 39 games he has played, and has multiple strikeouts in 13 games already this season. To put that in perspective, Wright did that just 25 times in both 2006 and 2008 and only 28 times in 2007.
Wright was fairly consistent in his first five years in the league, striking out in 16.4 pct of his plate appearances and never going above 17.2 (MLB average was 17.0). In 2009, his K pct increased to 22.7 before skyrocketing so far this year to 30.8, more than double the MLB average. And Wright is second in the majors (among the top 50 players in strikeouts) having struck out once every 2.6 AB.
Wright is struggling to put the ball in play, but isn’t really suffering in many other areas. His power has returned to some extent as mentioned above, his BB pct is the highest of his career (16.6), his OBP is .391 and his .909 OPS is ranks 16th in the NL. So what is causing all the strikeouts? It’s not that Wright has been too eager; he’s seen 4.4 P per PA and isn’t expanding the strike zone. His chase pct so far this year (19.2) is actually less than he averaged in his first five season.
It could stem from one fateful at-bat last season. On August 15, 2009, Wright was beaned in the head by a Matt Cain fastball and hospitalized, eventually landing on the DL. Since getting hit, Wright just isn’t making contact with the baseball that often. His miss pct has gone through the roof: so far this season, Wright has actually missed on more pitches (92) than he has put into play (88), something he’s never come CLOSE to doing in his career! It’s worse in two-strike counts, where he’s struck out in more than half of his plate appearances (MLB average is 37.9 pct). This can also be attributed to his miss pct when he’s got two strikes, which is a whopping 35.7, while the MLB average is just 21.4.
Before and after being hit in the head with a fastball last season
Since the beaning Wright has seen his miss pct and K pct increase against all pitch types, including that fateful heater. And his problems seem to be concentrated to right-handed pitchers: he’s hitting just .215 with two strikes since the beaning (.155 in 2010) and just .101 against righties in those situations. And he’s having trouble against right-handed fastballs in particular, hitting .092 against them in two-strike counts, down from .239 before getting hit.