PITTSBURGH -- The one knock on David Wright throughout his career has been the third baseman's propensity for striking out. Wright whiffed 161 times in 2010, or roughly once every four plate appearances. It had begun affecting his overall offensive profile to a damaging extent.
Now, Wright has managed to avoid gaudy strikeout totals by cutting down his swing with two strikes, punching balls to the opposite field with regularity. A perfect example came Monday in Pittsburgh, when Wright stayed back on Erik Bedard's two-strike curveball in the second inning, serving it into right for a single.
"I just know that with two strikes, he's locked in to try to go the other way," manager Terry Collins said. "They've got to make good pitches on him, and sometimes they have. But for the most part, he's put a pretty good swing on the ball with two strikes."
The results have been staggering. Wright's .415 batting average entering Tuesday's play was the fourth-highest mark through this point of an MLB season since 1980, trailing only Paul O'Neill in 1994, Rod Carew in '83 and Barry Bonds in '93.
Couple that with a strikeout rate that has dropped nearly eight percentage points from last season, and Wright's average could hover at elite levels for much of this summer.
"He's got the physical attributes it takes to chase that mark," Collins said of hitting over .400. "He's strong. Not only can he hit the ball out of the ballpark, but he'll take singles. He can run, so the choppers in the hole, he can beat some of those out. There are a lot of positives."