NEW YORK -- Entering Saturday, Mets third baseman David Wright was just four hits shy of tying Ed Kranepool's all-time franchise hits record of 1,418, and with six straight upcoming home games the Mets are hoping he'll have the opportunity to surpass the mark at Citi Field.
But more impressive than the number is the amount of time it took Wright to approach it. Saturday marked Wright's 1,252nd career game, and he is playing in his ninth Major League season. Kranepool, who played 18 seasons with the Mets, set the franchise record in 1,853 games.
"When you start breaking organizational records when you're in your eighth or ninth season and the guys who hold the record have played here for many more years, it tells you how good a player he is," manager Terry Collins said. "He's been very, very steady, out there every day and loves to play every day."
Wright's first half was far-and-away the best of this career, as he carried a .351 batting average into the All-Star break, and his average was higher than .400 as late as May 24.
But he's slowed down in the second half. Not that Wright's overall numbers aren't still impressive -- he was batting .307 with 82 RBIs entering Saturday -- but they took a big dip after he hit just .255 in July and .272 in August.
So what's been the difference?
Wright's downturn in production is almost a direct correlation between the team's first-half success and its slump thereafter, though the struggles aren't necessarily a product of the latter.
In fact, Collins said Saturday that it may be the opposite. As New York's season has gone downhill, Wright has put added pressure on himself to pick up the slack.
"He's taken a lot on his own shoulders," Collins said. "He knows how important he is to this club and is probably the one guy who said 'this is my team now.' So he's expanded the strike zone a bit. But that's what I love about him, he knows he's got to be 'Mr. Reliable,' and he wants to be that guy.
"He wants to be the guy who gets the big hit so that the players can rest assured that David Wright's going to watch their back for them and be the guy to rely on. That's what stars do in my opinion."
Including Saturday, the Mets have just 12 games remaining until the offseason, meaning just 12 games left on David Wright's current contract. Only three active players lead their current club's all-time hit list entering Saturday's games: The Yankees' Derek Jeter (3,291), Colorado's Todd Helton (2,420) and Texas' Michael Young (2,218).