This is the third installment in my recurring series on pairs of players whose careers produced similar numbers.  looks at two who were very popular with teammates and fans alike.  These two also have a lasting connection from childhood.  They grew up playing baseball together in the Norfolk, VA area.  Twenty years later they played together with the New York Mets, after growing up as fans of the Mets AAA team based in Norfolk!

Michael Cuddyer played in 1536 games in 15 seasons (2001-2015), with the Twins, Rockies, and Mets.  His major league career had a slow start.  Alternating between the minor leagues and major leagues where he was often in a reserve role, he played in just 84 games in his first three seasons combined. 

Given the opportunity to play every day starting in 2005 he finished second in RBI on the Twins in 2006.  He was a two-time All Star and led the National League with a .331 batting average in 2013 over 540 plate appearances.   Less than three years later, a knee injury led to his sudden retirement at age 36. 

Michael Cuddyer in spring training before 2007 season (Image from Wikipedia)

Cuddyer hit 197 major league home runs, but his most consequential homers were not hit in a major league uniform.  His final minor league home runs, in a playoff series as a member of the AA New Britain Rock Cats were the margin of victory in two games of that series. That outcome literally saved the life of one team member

Had the series ended in a loss on the 10th of September, all the players would have been scattering to their off-season homes. For pitcher Brad Thomas, a native of Australia, the first leg of his journey home was scheduled for a flight from Boston to Los Angeles on the morning of September 11th.  That plane was one of those crashed by terrorists into the World Trade Center.  But Brad was not on that flight because the team’s win from the previous night meant that New Britain was awaiting another playoff series.  Brad Thomas ended up making 72 major league pitching appearances over five different seasons, mostly with the Tigers in 2010 and 2011. 

David Wright was a first-round draft pick of the Mets in 2001 after playing college ball at Georgia Tech.  Quickly advancing up the minor league system, he made his major league debut in July of 2004. 

Boyhood friends Michael Cuddyer, left, and David Wright played together with the Mets in 2015 (Image from wikipedia)

After being an everyday player from 2005-2010, Wright was hampered by neck and back injuries which cost him 40 to 50 games in both the 2011 and 2013 seasons and limited him to just 77 total games from 2015 until his retirement in 2018.  His career spanned the same 15 seasons as Joe Mauer, but Wright played in 15% fewer games. 

Wright was a seven-time all star who finished among the top ten in the MVP vote four times.  Career totals included 242 HR and .296 career BA.  He was known for his tremendous work ethic and being extraordinarily accommodating with both reporters and fans. 

These are a pair of players who had about the same number of games, but probably won’t be in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.   It’s a bit surprising that Cuddyer got no votes when on the ballot in 2021.  It will be interesting to see how much attention the voters give to Wright when he is eligible in 2024. 

While maybe not attaining the accomplishments to be considered Hall of Fame players, I expect neither will be sad over this.  Both Cuddyer and Wright have been Hall of Fame people, attaining enough great memories to last a lifetime.  They are two of the “good guys” of the game. They can remind us that being content with a sufficiency, we will find the abundance that results — with or without the Hall of Fame.