Back in 1999 — as much as I hate to admit it — Chipper Jones won the National League MVP award with what he did against the Mets in September. Atlanta beat New York by 6 1/2 games that year, but on Sept. 21, the teams began a three-game series at Turner Field with the Braves holding a two-game lead. They played six times in the next nine days, and Atlanta won five of them.
Chipper batted .300 with four home runs, six runs and nine RBI in those six games. He hit .556 in the three-game sweep of the first series in Atlanta and homered in each of the games, going deep twice in the first one.
In his career, Chipper has played the Mets 160 times and has the following stats: .330 average. 422 OBP, .574 SLG, .996 OPS, 116 runs, 29 doubles, 35 homers, 107 RBI, 94 walks, 88 strikeouts and 19 stolen bases. That’s an MVP year in itself. He’s enjoyed Shea Stadium, too, hitting 17 of those 35 homers in Queens. No wonder he named one of his children Shea.
But the Mets may now have their answer to Chipper. While Atlanta’s third baseman may never again get through a season without a nagging injury or a disabled-list stint, the Mets have David Wright only beginning to emerge. OK, he’s probably emerged, but he’s still developing, still getting better.
The best part, however, is that he’s turning into the Mets’ version of Chipper, not just overall, but in this NL East rivalry as well. He’s off to a good start. In his 41 career games against Atlanta, Wright is batting .301 with a .385 OBP, .589 SLG, .974 OPS, 19 runs, nine doubles, 11 homers, 24 RBI, 18 walks, 27 strikeouts and four stolen bases without being caught. And, like Chipper, he’s doing slightly better on Atlanta’s home turf — six homers and 12 of his 24 RBI have come at Turner Field. All those women who show up to Shea with “Mrs. Wright” t-shirts had better get used to the thought of a son named Turner Wright.
Conveniently, Wright’s 41 games against Atlanta are just about one-fourth of Chipper’s 160 against the Mets. Extrapolating Wright’s career numbers against the Braves gives you: .301 average, .385 OBP, .589 SLG, .974 OPS (the averages won’t change when you simply multiply the numbers that make them up), 76 runs, 36 doubles, 44 homers, 96 RBI, 72 walks, 108 strikeouts and 16 stolen bases. With a 44-homer pace, you have to figure the runs and RBI will come up, particularly if the Mets can keep a strong lineup in front of Wright over the next 10 years. He’s also got a few years to truly settle in and cut down on the strikeouts and bring up his walks — plus, you figure the Braves will walk him intentionally more often. The point is, I have a feeling that once Wright hits the 160-game mark against Atlanta, his numbers will be very similar to those Chipper has put up against New York.
Here’s hoping Wright continues the trend this weekend in Atlanta.