We Like[d] Ike!
Ike Davis gives me headaches. I throw on the Mets game after a friend told me what Kung Fo Panda just did. After watching Dillon Gee struggle, I get to watch Ike Davis strike out looking with the bases load in the 8th inning against the San Francisco Giants. The Mets would lose 7-2.
After striking out, Davis properly mutters something he shouldn’t have, and throws his bat like an underhand toss. He un-straps his batting gloves and proceeds to look up to the sky as if the answers lie there. But the answers lie in his attitude at the plate.
Ever since being called up, Davis has developed this bad-boy reputation that is starting to shape his character. The typical called third strike routine from Davis goes as follows: his knees bend and he leans back, he mutters something, and then proceeds to the bench. Every Mets fan has the routine down by now. And as Mets fans, our patience is starting to run out.
Ike Davis has received some brutal calls from umpires this series. Below are Pitch F/x maps from Brooks Baseball, which help map out the strikes and balls by a pitcher. This is Ike Davis’ at-bat against Tim Lincecum:
The chart is from game 1 of the doubleheader on Monday; an 8-pitch at-bat where Lincecum struck out Davis. If you look at pitch #5, the pitch is well off the plate. Compared with pitch #3, which was called a ball, pitch #5 seems to be in the same proximity off the plate, just not as high.
But Ike hurts himself when he has the power in his own hands.
One of his biggest problems this year is his ability to layoff the stuff in the dirt. If you remember in the Atlanta opening series (and the whole year), teams have been throwing lazy slides and curves away and in the dirt to get Davis to chase. Pitch #7 is probably pretty close to the dirt and Ike’s poor patience at the plate is starting to be observed under the microscope.
Here’s a strikeout from Saturday’s game, against Ryan Vogelsong:
Another pitch well off the plate, called for strike 1. He’s then beat down the pipe. Strike 3.
And here’s the strikeout that ended the 8th inning rally, this time against Clay Hensley:
In this final strikezone plot, we see three balls that were either called strikes or were fouled off. Pitch #7 was the called looking strike 3, which ended any chance the Mets had. Pitches #1, #2, and #4 are all questionable strikes, which Ike either fouled off or got caught looking.
If this is evidence on how umpires will call Ike Davis, he could be spiraling down faster than we thought. By umpires calling more strikes, Davis’ already bad tendencies could increase, causing more swings and misses. His slash so far in 14 games in .148/.207/.315, not exactly what you are looking for out of your cleanup hitter. Adam Dunn might have a new partner in exile.
And as painful it is to watch Davis struggle, he has to learn on the job and put the struggles behind him. It’s a lot harder to say than do, but it must be done. I think Mets fans put a lot of hype behind Davis after a solid rookie campaign and a hot start last year. Personally, I was coming up nicknames for the tandem of Davis and Lucas Duda (Double D’s/Dynamic Dudo’s), but have been too embarrassed to show them off. I think the main problem is Ike has zero patience at the plate, which causes a lot of first pitch swings and misses. He also has not been using the whole field, as he rolls over many of his pitches, hitting the lazy grounder to first or second.
Most importantly, his attitude is not where it’s supposed to be. When SNY zooms in during an at-bat, Davis is caught muttering something back to the umpire. Usually it involves a questionable call, but after a strikeout, Ike really lets the crowd know his frustration. While this slump is the worst of Davis’ career, baseball players were always taught act professionally, even in little league. Since Ike’s debut in 2010, we have seen his youthful attitude mixed with really dark times. He’s earning a reputation that a cornerstone in a franchise should not have.
The Mets now sit at .500 with a record of 8-8. A .500 record without consistent production from Ike Davis and Lucas Duda isn’t bad at all. I’ll keep monitoring the Davis situation closely. I’m starting to think he might need something to get away from the team. Maybe a trip to Buffalo wouldn’t be the worst idea?