What makes a good captain? Well, a captain is one who can lead by example. A captain knows the right ways to go, the right things to do. A captain doesn't buckle under pressure—more, a captain thrives under pressure.
On Thursday, following their Grapefruit League loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, the New York Mets officially named David Wright the fourth captain in the history of the franchise, CBS Sports reported. Wright follows in the footsteps of Mets legends Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and John Franco as leading his peers on and off the field.
Wright provided his interpretation of the role he has inherited, per CBS Sports:
I think that the responsibilities are kind of the same as what I've always tried to do. I'm not a real 'rah rah,' yell and scream kind of guy ... I think it's more lead by example. I'm going to take the responsibility seriously and with a great deal of pride.
So does Wright meet the qualifications of being a captain? Coincidentally, he was recently dubbed "Captain America" by his teammates on Team USA during the recent installment of the World Baseball Classic, where Wright led all participants with 10 RBI.
I'd argue that Wright does deserve to wear the "C" on his chest (Wright has stated he will not actually wear the "C," so this is figurative). And here's why...
First of all, he has the notable stats and achievements that warrant such an honor. Over his nine major league seasons (all with the Mets), Wright owns a .301 batting average, more than 200 home runs and over 150 stolen bases. He's a six-time All-Star and has two Gold Gloves for his stellar play at third base.
Wright owns top honors in Mets franchise history in a number of offensive categories, including runs scored, hits, total bases, doubles and RBI.
Additionally, Wright has been—and will continue to be—around for a while. The Mets selected him in the first round (38th overall) of the 2001 draft. He ascended quickly to the majors, making his debut in 2004—a debut that featured 14 home runs in 263 at-bats.
Despite numerous trade rumors over the last couple of seasons, the Mets did the right thing in locking up their franchise player long term. In December, the Mets signed Wright to an eight-year, $138 million contract extension, keeping their star in Queens for likely the rest of his career.
Just about every season since Wright arrived in Flushing, he had "leader" written all over him. In 2008, then-manager Jerry Manuel called on Wright to take leadership of the team after Carlos Delgado had gone down with an injury. Wright didn't take long to answer the call. He was humble enough to publicly play down the assignment, as he didn't wish to upset any of the veterans on the club. But Wright was a born leader in the Mets clubhouse.
In a June game against Baltimore, starter Mike Pelfrey lost all command and control of his pitches, after a brilliant start. The right-hander was pulled after 5.2 innings, and Wright went up to him and gave Pelfrey a pep talk. Pelfrey, and Manuel, appreciated the gesture, and Wright was well on his way to being the leader of the clubhouse.
Further, Wright has shown he is able to handle the pressures of playing in New York, something that can be challenging to many athletes. Wright has been able to deal with the media without circumstance. He says the right things and never gets publicly frustrated or upset.
At 30 years of age, Wright becomes the captain of the Mets. It's been a while since the team last had a captain. John Franco was the last Met to carry that mantle, and he departed from the team following the '04 season. Wright is also the youngest Met to be named captain.
His play on the field, and his attitude off the field, give him all of the credibility he needs to be labeled as team captain. Now he leads the Mets into an uncertain time, as they try to compete in 2013 with a less-than-stellar roster. But if anyone is up to the task of leading this young, rather inexperienced club, Wright is certainly the right guy for the job.