Let me be clear: It is absolutely troubling that David Wright has failed to hit .404 in every month this season, as he did in June. Wright will likely join a select group that includes every player in the Major Leagues since Ted Williams in 1941 in failing to hit .400 over even a single season.
Wright looks even worse, when considering his recent slump. The dip in production proves that he is not consistent in a way that is uniform with other inconsistent performers throughout baseball history.
The grim truth is evident for all to see: David Wright's .648 OPS from July 1 through August 15 is no different than the times other third basemen proved they simply weren't capable of being franchise performers, day-in and day-out.
The definitively inconsistent Mike Schmidt season has to be 1980, when the Hall of Fame third baseman hit .286 with 48 home runs, a 199 OPS+, and led the Phillies to a World Series victory. Unfortunately, his year will be forever marred by the period from June 17 through August 10, 1980, when he hit just .196/.319/.406, marking him as an inconsistent player in the eyes of all of baseball then and forever. He further cemented this distinction by following that period with a season-ending run of .311/.405/.661, a devastating display of sometime hitting.
Eddie Mathews let the baseball world know just how inconsistent he'd be at age 21, hitting 47 home runs at third base while posting an OPS+ of 171 in 1953. And yet, from June 4 through June 30, 1953, Erratic Eddie hit just .232/.301/.438, after starting the season with a line of .333/.453/.730 through June 3. Talk about unreliable!
Wade Boggs marked himself as a player who is not to be trusted in his remarkably divergent 1987 season. The supposed superstar hit just .275/.392/.375 in the entire month of April, making it clear to Red Sox fans that he was nothing more than Luis Castillo playing third base. But just as opinion was about to set, Boggs followed this month with another five months of .378/.473/.624 hitting. He hadn't hit home runs previously, only to blast two on May 1 and end up with 24 on the season.
True to form, Boggs only reached double figures in home runs once over the remainder of his career, a monument to the failure Mets fans now will have to endure with David Wright.
Moving beyond the position Wright plays, how does his inconsistency compare with some of the most noted flighty performers in baseball history, regardless of position?
Tommy Heinrich, Yankees outfielder, earned his nickname "Old Reliable" largely on the strength of the 1941 season, his best. I can only assume the moniker is sarcastic, because the entire year is a monument to the up-and-down player Keller was. Why, from April 14 to May 20, Heinrich hit .188/.288/.313! Yankees fans must have thought the pitcher was hitting. The fickle Heinrich then played with fan hopes further by hitting .293/.393/.578 from May 21 through August 1, hitting 20 home runs in the process.
Astoundingly, Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn't receive a single call to trade Heinrich during any of his Fireside Chats.
If the Mets are looking for another inconsistent player to acquire for Wright in a trade, perhaps they can go after someone like Chase Utley (who posted a .615 OPS in September 2009), Derek Jeter (who had a .622 OPS last month), or Ichiro Suzuki -- whose shifting production in 2004 led to an April line of .255/.309/.304, followed by a May at .400/.436/.496.
Which is it, Ichiro? When will you make up your mind?
Until the Mets mercifully bring the David Wright Era to a close, fans will be left to dream of a day, far in the future, when the team replaces No. 5 with a consistent performer like Tim Bogar, who never raised fan hopes with a season that cracked the .700 OPS barrier during his four seasons in New York.
Bogar's consistency wasn't perfect, of course -- he did post a .300/.364/.633 line in August 1993 -- but it was by far the exception. Tim Bogar, in other words, is exactly the kind of third baseman critics of David Wright deserve.