Should Mets Pitchers Protect David Wright?

Over the last few weeks I noticed opposing pitchers throwing pitches up and in to David Wright. To me it appears as though a purposeful strategy, based on scouting reports that perceive Wright to still have the Matt Cain beaning in the back of his mind. I thought maybe it was just me being my old-school self, but it seems there are others who are seeing things similarly. This is from a participant at the MetsToday Facebook page:

They are throwing up and in on Wright. And the next time a Mets pitcher retaliates by throwing up and in on an opponent’s 3/4 hitter will be the first. That, as much as anything else, ticks me off about this team.

And then there is this from the comments section:

People bust the Mets in hard all the time, and no Met pitcher other than Gee seems to do the same- If I am one of the Mets hitters, I would not be happy.

What do you think? Is David still affected by that beaning? Are opposing pitchers purposely taking advantage of that, if indeed it’s true? And further, should Mets pitchers be retaliating, to protect Wright?

Please post your feelings in the comments.


Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. 86mets September 27, 2011 at 1:31 pm
    This has been an issue with this team for year….they allow other teams to intimidate them and use them as a doormat and they just let it happen. A Phillies player slides hard into 2B and takes out our SS or 2B and nothing happens. Wright gets a 95 mph heater up and in time and again and no one retaliates. Is it that these guys just don’t have the nerve to retaliate, don’t care, or have been told by ownership not to play that way because they’re afraid of the reputation they might get? I thought when they hired Collins to run the team that might change, but nothing has changed. That needs to change.
  2. Izzy September 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm
    Throwing up and in is part of the game. If Met pitchers refuse to pitch anything but away, it explains why they are so mediocre. If a guy has a flaw and you don’t take advantage of it you are hurting yourself and your team. Maybe the Mets need to see tapes of Drysdale and Gibson.
  3. acoustic567 September 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm
    There are two issues being merged here.

    One is whether the Mets should pitch inside simply because it’s an effective part of virtually pitcher’s arsenal. Of course they should. But Mets pitchers’ failures in this regard aren’t about being afraid to pitch inside, they are about their lack of command in doing so. Folks may like the fact that Gee hits a lot of batters, but to me it looks like he doesn’t have enough command to back batters off the plate without frequently hitting them. I applaud Gee for throwing inside, but if he keeps just putting runners on base by hitting them I don’t think it’s a net positive for him. He doesn’t throw hard enough to intimidate batters.

    Pelfrey, Niese and several of the relievers also have command issues when throwing inside. They can’t do it effectively.

    The separate question is whether Mets pitchers need to retaliate for what is going on with Wright. I think they should, but it’s complicated. Most pitchers aren’t throwing at Wright, they’re trying to take advantage of a perceived weakness inside, just like we want Mets pitchers to do. Cabrera obviously didn’t want to hit Wright last night, he didn’t want to put the winning run on base with none out.

    I always thought that retaliation wasn’t called for when a pitcher just misses his spot and hits the batter unintentionally, but maybe the Mets need to do more to protect Wright since he’s being put in harm’s way so often, intentionally or not.

    • Joe Janish September 28, 2011 at 12:08 am
      Well said.

      I agree that no pitcher is trying to HIT Wright, but they are definitely going up and in more than they might against other hitters — and I’m certain it’s because of what is on the scouting reports.

      The thing is — as you have covered — most MLB pitchers today don’t know how to go up and in, they don’t do it very often, and therefore don’t have the command to do it without the risk of hitting batters.

      I agree that all pitchers should have the up and in fastball as part of their arsenal, but Bud Selig effectively culled it out with his inane rules. So what we have is a more dangerous situation than before, where pitchers don’t know how to pitch inside w/o HBPs, and hitters who don’t know how to get out of the way of pitches at them.

  4. acoustic567 September 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm
    I meant Cordero, not Cabrera.
  5. Bill September 27, 2011 at 4:28 pm
    Not sure pitchers are throwing up and in more.

    Compared to his best year in 2008, pitchers this year are throwing 7% of their pitches to Wright up and in compared to 9%.

    When it comes to fastballs, the pattern is even more pronounced (9% in 2011 versus 13% in 2008).

    • Joe Janish September 28, 2011 at 12:11 am
      You’re not sure because you’re looking at numbers on a screen and not at the games.

      It might not be more often over the course of the year, but it has been more often over the past two months — which is when it started appearing on scouting reports.

      And we are discussing pitches getting close to his chin. I don’t know that there are stats to report on something so specific.

      • Bill September 29, 2011 at 3:45 pm
        Ummm, sure.

        1) I do watch the games, but that’s neither here nor there.

        2) You can’t tell if something is happening more or less unless you actually, you know, look at numbers in conjunction with what you think you see.

        Pitch FX data gets you these numbers. Just for fun I restricted the data to just August and September, and the percentage of pitches thrown in that area is basically the same (8%). Fastballs, however, plummet to only 4%.

        I could restrict it further based on extreme high and inside, but I don’t have the time and it sounds like you wouldn’t care anyway.

        Way to play right into your reputation.

  6. jimi September 28, 2011 at 12:37 am
    I think the next time David Wright gets a 95 MPH fastball too close inside, he should storm out to the mound and smack the pitcher in the mouth, with the entire team charging out to back him up. Do this one or two times and pitchers will think twice about attempting that strategy, which is exactly the result you want. How it’s being handled now – with a whimper and a teardrop – is not going to solve the problem. We’ll just have David hitting .260 for the rest of his career.
  7. MetsFan17 October 5, 2011 at 7:10 am
    Thanks for noticing my comment (first one up there in your post). It still ticks me off. Not that I think David is likely to get over it any time soon even if the Mets pitchers DO start showing a little “team spirit”, but I was a pitcher and it is one of the things that you do. The simple fact is that pitchers from the other teams have figured out that sailing one up and in finishes David off for that at bat. Up and in followed by outside corner and David (currently) stands no chance. And we have already seen that every once in a while, up and in gets away. And even if it didn’t, why is it that pitchers are continuing to do that with impunity? Do you think a few rib shots to Pujols, or Howard, or any other 3/4 guy isn’t going to eventually get the message across to that team’s pitchers? I don’t know many who wouldn’t remember a Bobby Parnell fastball in the ribs for a while. If it’s a good strategy for Mets’ opponents, the Mets should begin to use it themselves. But I also agree that David has to step up and show a pulse about it as well. Have an arrangement with his teammates that the first up and in ball everyone meets at the mound. A little suspension would be worth it.