Ike Davis is the Key to Mets Offense
OK, you’re probably reading the headline and thinking, “more like ‘Seven Guys Not Slumping at the Same Time is the Key to Mets Offense.'” Yes, the Mets are not exactly the reincarnation of the 1927 Yankees.
They don’t have an ideal leadoff hitter or a steady center fielder or right fielder. Ruben Tejada has been nearly as unspectacular with the bat has he has been with the glove this year, and Daniel Murphy, after a hot start, has slumped mightily. On April 25th, he was batting .346/.388/.538. Since then, he’s hit only .130/.161/.167.
It seems in late April, everyone went into a slump following their hot start. But the Mets need a stabilizing presence in the middle of the lineup to mitigate poor performance from the rest of the team – let’s say…a power-hitting left-handed bat. Someone like Ike Davis.
But how can we be sure that Ike Davis is Ike Davis? After a strong rookie season in which he hit 19 homers and stabilized first base for the Mets, he began the 2011 season with a .302/.383/.543 slash with 7 homers. He collided with David Wright in Colorado in an attempt to field a popup. He broke his ankle, deep-sixing him for the season (the collision eventually knocked Wright out with a fractured vertebra).
Last year, he started slowly, hitting .158/.234/.273 as of June 8th. People speculated: was it the Valley Fever he contracted during the offseason? Was it rust from missing so much of 2011? Was his ankle still weak?
Beginning on June 9th, Davis went on a nine-game hiting streak during which he hit 2 doubles, 2 homers, and batted .462/.576/.769. Translation: a switch flipped and he went from an automatic out to a hitting machine.
He finished the season with a total of 32 homers and 90 RBIs – remarkable numbers considering his horrendous start. What would he be capable of in a season where he’s 100% healthy and starts strong, we wondered? 40 home runs? 120 RBIs? Well, it hasn’t worked out that way.
His 2013 has become eerily similar to his 2012. After the game of May 12th of 2012, he was hitting .175/.236/.325 with 5 home runs and 13 RBIs. This year, on the same date, he’s at .180/.270/.306 with 4 home runs and 9 RBIs.
Will he turn things around? Will it take until early June like last year? And is this what we can expect from Davis for the rest of his career?
The Mets need Ike Davis to hit like the guy we saw from June-on last year. Tejada might go on streaks, Murphy might go on streaks, John Buck might go on streaks, but the Mets need to stabilize the middle of their order. If they don’t David Wright can expect more pitch-arounds and intentional walks, which is bad news for the Mets: their best hitter will never get a chance to hit with runners in scoring position. On Sunday, with a man on third and one out, the Pirates clearly pitched around Wright to get to Davis (the catcher even called for a slider 3-0 before being shaken off by the pitcher). Davis struck out, and the Pirates eventually got out of the inning.
Davis later apologized for letting his team down. At least he’s taking accountability for his struggles, which is something he hasn’t done all the time. He’s blamed the way teams pitch him and the umpires, and he’s been reluctant to take advice from hitting coach Dave Hudgens.
“Yeah, well, pitchers are hitting their spots two inches off the plate, and I don’t want to swing at that anyway,” Davis said on May 2 in a New York Times Article.
Terry Collins recently abandoned the concept of platooning Davis and hitting him sixth or seventh in the batting order, saying that Ike needs to start producing. And he’s right. Davis is being paid to hit cleanup and drive in runs, and it’s time to stop babying him.
Duda and Buck have had their moments this year, but neither has been consistent. Davis, when he’s right, is the best candidate for the cleanup role. And if he can’t handle the job, the Mets are going to have to find someone who can.