When it comes down to it, we can do all the statistical analysis we want on David Wright, but in its simplest form, it comes down to this:
Eight hits doesn't sound like a lot over 40 games. It's about one more hit every five games.
Somewhere, within the skill sets that Wright possesses that made him one of the best players in baseball since 2005, are eight more hits.
Eight hits are a game changer. Eight hits at this point in the season take a slumping, struggling .262 hitter and turn him into a robust, dynamic, .319 hitter.
Eight hits are two bloops here, two blasts there, two solid line drives to right field, a ground ball single to center, and a ground ball single to left field.
They're there somewhere, but Wright can't find them, almost like the kid who's frustrated because he can't find his favorite toy, or the adult who's tearing the house up because he can't locate the remote control.
Where are those eight hits?
They're actually over here, in the wreckage of a .149 batting average with two strikes in 2010.
Wright is hitting .444 in non-two-strike situations in 2010. That sounds amazing, but he's been there before. In 2007, he hit .439 for the season in non-two strike situations. Triple-fours is really, really, really good. But we've seen that before.
We've never seen anything like what Wright's in the midst of with two strikes. Actually, yes we have. And it wasn't that long ago.
From the beginning of his career in 2004 to 2009, Wright hit .232 with two strikes. That batting average ranks 36th-best, which puts him among the top nine percent of players in the sport.
Four years ago, which must seem like a lifetime now, Wright hit .281 with two strikes. That was fourth-best in baseball, the same as Joe Mauer, and better than both Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter.
That was peak performance. In 2007, he slipped to .200. In 2008, he climbed back to .241. In 2009, he finished at .188, the worst of his career.
But look more closely and you'll see this: From when he returned after the beaning by Giants pitcher Matt Cain, Wright had six hits in 58 two-strike at-bats. A .210 two-strike hitter pre-beaning slipped to .103 after, for the rest of 2009. He was literally half the hitter he used to be. He entered Thursday hitting .149 in 2010.
Circling back to 2010, Wright had a two-day period in which it looked like he'd snapped out of his two-strike funk, with a string of four plate appearances in which he had two singles, a walk, and an opposite field double.
That's the closest thing we've seen to the old Wright since he got hit in the head. But that was gone as quickly as it came. The last week has been the biggest struggle of Wright's career.
In his last 17 plate appearances that have gone to two strikes, Wright has struck out 13 times. He's grounded out weakly twice. He's walked twice.
That's a totally different kind of Wright than the one we've seen previously.
We've written in our various forums about Wright's struggles, how he's being pitched to differently (fastballs in, offspeed away) since he was hit in the head with, what we might remind you, was an 0-2 fastball. A two-strike pitch...one that was not in the strike zone.
Our colleague in Stats and Info, Katie Sharp, updated something we'd looked at in various forms previously. Since returning on Sept. 1, 2009, Wright is 0-for-46 against two-strike pitches that are not in the strike zone.
Most hitters don't get hits against two-strike pitches out of the strike zone, but Wright had eight in 2009 prior to being hit in the head. Eight hits. It was something he could do then, that he can't do now.
If Wright was the two-strike hitter he'd been pre-beaning, he'd be hitting .237 in such situations. Given the number of times he's been to the plate, that would net him 21 two-strike hits this season.
Wright enters the day with 13 two-strike hits. An eight-hit difference. They're there to be found. Perhaps a day of rest will allow him to re-discover them.