2011 Evaluation: Ike Davis
Remember Ike Davis? He was the really tall first baseman with the big-fly swing. You may remember him from the early spring, when there was still a shred of hope for Mets fans.
Ike began the season red-hot, hitting .302 with a .925 OPS and 7 HR through the first 36 games and 149 plate appearances. Then the fateful infield fly fell to the Earth, and the young strapping first baseman’s year was finished.
If only someone had taken charge that moment — say, a catcher, since that is usually part of the job description — perhaps things would have gone differently that day, and through the season, for the Mets and Ike Davis. But, we can’t dwell on what might have been, and we can’t quantify intangibles, so move on we will.
There’s no question Ike Davis was looking like a future All-Star in the weeks before he went down with that horrible ankle injury. What we can question, though, is whether that hot start was truly indicative of what he would have done through 162 games. Hard to say, because he had such a scorching April, then seemed to be falling back to normalcy in the week or so right before crashing into David Wright. After hitting .337 with a 1.014 OPS in the initial month, Ike dropped to only .206 / .672 in the nine games he played in May. Granted, a small sample size, but it wasn’t surprising considering the streakiness we’ve seen from Davis thus far in his young career. He ran hot and cold for stretches in his rookie campaign — sometimes really hot, occasionally really cold. But was that because he’s streaky or because he and the league were making adjustments to each other?
One thing that did jump out at me in Ike’s short 2011: difficulty hitting against lefthanders. As a rookie, Davis more than held his own vs. southpaws with a .295 AVG / .805 OPS in 138 plate appearances (both numbers were much higher than how he fared against righthanders). In 2011, however, those stats dropped drastically, to .163 / .493 in 50 PAs. Again, were talking small sample sizes — in both years — but it’s something to keep an eye on.
I don’t know — your guess is as good as mine. Ike Davis has a long, uppercut swing that would seem to be prone to the streakiness that we’ve seen. But when he’s “on” — wow — he’s “on”. He has the propensity to hit majestic, towering homeruns. He can also take a walk. He has also shown an ability to go the other way. His fielding is stellar. On the down side, we’re not sure how much he’ll struggle against lefties, he tends to strike out quite a bit, and his already slow feet likely will be slower after the injury. Will he become an Adam Dunn type of player? Maybe. Or will be more like an Adam LaRoche? I think that’s the range for him from ceiling to floor, and if LaRoche is the floor, that’s not too bad. My guess is Ike Davis will fall somewhere in between the two Adams, and that’s fine by me. First, though, I want to see him healthy and on the field — let’s all keep our fingers crossed on that.
What do you think? What kind of year are you expecting from Ike Davis in 2012?