The Ike Davis Decision
Ike Davis is making another late-season surge.
Since his recall from Triple-A Las Vegas on July 5th, Davis is hitting .300 with a .467 on base percentage, but he still hasn’t hit for much power. He only has one home run in that span. His slugging percentage is on the rise, however, thanks to the 6 doubles he’s hit in his last 10 games.
He’s been in a strict platoon with Josh Satin since his return to the majors, and that may be one of the keys to his recent success. On the season, he’s still hitting only .153 against southpaws. And since the Mets have faced a disproportionately high amount of right-handed starting pitchers recently, he’s had a lot of playing time, which usually helps guys with long swings.
For the second straight year, Davis had no approach at the plate and looked lost for the first half of the season. Each time, something clicked – this year at Triple-A Las Vegas – and Davis started producing again. But how much of this is a tease?
By the time Ike finished 2012 with 32 home runs, we thought he was back. We thought he was the Ike Davis we saw in his rookie season. We thought he was back to being the complete hitter we saw in 2011 before the collision with David Wright that knocked Ike out for the season.
Now, we’re seeing a patient hitter who doesn’t chase junk outside the strikezone. If he doesn’t get a pitch to hit, he takes a walk. Pitchers will eventually start giving him pitches to hit when they fall behind, and he’ll eventually start driving them over the wall. It’s almost like Davis is learning to hit again from the ground up.
And what if Davis gets really hot in September, when he’s facing weaker competition and teams that are playing out the string? The only contending teams the Mets will face that month will be the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. They’ll play the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves early in the month, but the Braves, already 14.5 games ahead of the Nats, may have run away and hidden by then.
And even if Davis is firing on all cylinders within a couple of weeks, how do we know he won’t revert to where he was at the beginning of last year or the year before. Being a slow starter is one thing, being a black hole in a lineup for the first three months of a season is another. Is two years enough to spot a trend?
The Mets have a tough decision to make with Davis. He has no apparent trade value, so if the Mets choose to cut bait, they’d have to non-tender him. He could be successful with another team, but no one knows. The Mets also have other options at first base, though none of them are lead-pipe cinches.
Lucas Duda needs a place to play, and with the team’s improved outfield defense since his injury, the most logical spot for him is first base. Duda hasn’t been consistent enough to be the 30-HR player he looked like he could be back in 2011, but he does get on base, and (if he stays healthy) could be a 20-25 home run guy.
Wilmer Flores has 8 RBIs in his first 5 games with the Mets despite the fact that he’s hitting .211/.250/.263. If he shows he’s the hitter he was in Vegas this year, Flores will quickly become a contender for the position. When David Wright comes back, Flores will have to vacate third base. First is probably the best place for the big youngster, although if he really impresses, he could replace Daniel Murphy at second, where he played the majority of his games at Triple-A.
Not to leave out Satin, but he hasn’t shown much power despite his .296/.420/.429 slash. He’d probably be best suited for a utility role.
All the Mets can do now is see how the rest of the season plays out. If Davis continues to improve, and Duda and Flores don’t distinguish themselves, the Mets may have to take another chance on Davis in 2014. Whether they keep him in their plans or not, whatever the Mets do with Ike Davis will contain some risk.