Ike Davis is the Key to Mets Offense

Ike Davis K

Ike Davis strikes out on Sunday during a key moment in the game.

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.

Paul is a freelance writer, blogger, and broadcast technology professional residing in Denver. A New Jersey native, he is a long-suffering Mets fan, a recently-happy Giants fan, and bewildered Islanders fan. He's also a fair-weather Avalanche and Rockies supporter. In his spare time, he enjoys the three Gs: Golf, Guitars, and Games.
  1. Happy59 May 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm
    I agree that Davis needs to step up and produce to his talent as he has in the past. Several of the young players with potential previously shown, i.e. Murphy, Tejada [hit .290 last year], Duda, are below previous shown ability. Why is everyone avoiding the possibility that its Collins, albeit not intentionally, has smothered his players with his HIGH intensity projection. As I have mentioned in other posts Collins always looks like he is “chewing nails” in the dugout, even in interviews he’s intense, never relaxes, only smiles at the end of a game in which they have won when greeting the players off the field. Players no longer having fun but trying not to make that “mistake” under the glare. Players must be affected by his intensity, how can they not be? Collins may be a great guy but he’s not right for our Mets team. Remember his two previous managing stints. I apologize to Terry for my comments, however, I desire to see our Mets win consistantly and that requires drastic change.
    • Joe Janish May 13, 2013 at 11:13 pm
      Happy, you make a good point.

      Here’s something to discuss: is Collins’ intensity something that was inevitable — based on his previous history — or is it sparked by his lame-duck status? Is it a little of both?

      From Opening Day Collins has managed like someone managing for a new contract, approaching every game like it’s Game Seven of the World Series. It’s eerily reminiscent of Jerry Manuel’s tenure.

  2. Steven A May 13, 2013 at 6:07 pm
    I agree that its time for him to sink or swim, given that the season is a loss anyway. If he is not hitting by June 1, time to send him back to minors
  3. argonbunnies May 14, 2013 at 12:14 am
    As good as Ike’s numbers were in late 2012, did he really look like a good overall hitter? To me, he looked like a strong guy with a long swing who murdered mistakes (mostly grooved first-pitch fastballs and hanging breaking balls). And he’s got a pretty good eye, though that’s somewhat negated by being on the umps’ bad side (gets called out on more pitches off the plate away than any Mets lefty I’ve seen). But he never exactly looked like a tough out. He has holes he can’t fix, and pitchers don’t need to be masters of precision to exploit them.

    Based on that, as well as his K rate throughout his career, I don’t have high hopes for Ike in general. I think he’ll always be slump-prone. He’ll hit some HRs when hot, but the overall package he provides is absolutely not something you want in the #4 spot all season.

    If he’s the key to the Mets offense, they need to change that ASAP.

  4. argonbunnies May 14, 2013 at 12:25 am
    Random thought on lineup:

    #1 – Baxter (gets on base, some speed, no pop)
    #2 – Duda (draws walks, can hit mistakes, might get more mistakes with some protection)
    #3 – Wright (best combo of on-base, power, and RBI ability)
    #4 – Murphy (walks little, but hits enough singles and doubles to drive in some guys)

    Everyone else is a huge out-maker. I guess the power should follow the top of the lineup, so:

    #5 – Ike or Buck (depending on who’s hot, and the other team’s lefties)
    #6 – Buck or Ike
    #7 – whoever’s in CF
    #8 – Tejada (did a good job at #8 in 2011)

    • Paul Festa May 14, 2013 at 11:25 am
      Excellent comments.
  5. Quinn May 14, 2013 at 10:18 am
    Since its been clearly pointed out that this season is essentially a 162 game spring training, wouldnt it make sense to decide on Duda or Davis at first, this would negate the horrendous fielding in LF ( addition by subtraction) and then move who ever losses for a possible legitimate outfielder. Also aside from his arrogance why does collins (or alderson) hate Valdespin so much? Seriously Ankiel over valdespin!
    • NormE May 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm
      Quinn, I agree with your point on Duda-Davis. The more you watch left-fielders on other teams the more it is plain to see that the Mets will never succeed with the Dude out there.
      Alderson, or someone else, has to make the decision to trade either Ike or Lucas. I guess the decision is not pressing at the moment, since the team is going nowhere (is down nowhere?). But once one of them shows enough to attract a good deal the Mets have to move. I really don’t care which one.