Ike Davis: Future Mets HR king?

Mets pitchers and catchers report tomorrow in Port St. Lucie, officially kicking off a new year of baseball. This time of year is generally filled with optimism and “in the best shape of my life” quotes galore. Though Ike Davis doesn’t quite go that far, he does note that he’s feeling much better this spring than last spring

Last year, Davis was recovering from an ankle injury that caused him to miss most of the 2011 season. On top of that, he was also fighting what was reported to be Valley Fever. The combination sapped his energy and, as he told Adam Rubin of ESPN.com, he”…had to limit a lot of things last year as far as workload.”

By all accounts, Davis is feeling much better and potentially poised to have a monster year at the plate. Specifically, fans are excited to see if Davis can top the 32 home runs he hit last year, quite a feat considering he hit 27 of them from mid-June to the end of the season.

Just how many home runs can a healthy Davis be expected put up? It’s not unreasonable to expect him to hover at or above last year’s total on a consistent basis. He is certainly the biggest home run threat in the current Mets lineup and, in that aspect, one of the most dangerous home run hitters the Mets have had in recent memory. In fact, he’s the most prominent home-grown Mets home run hitter since Darryl Strawberry.

In the spirit of optimism (and hope, I guess), and assuming nothing goes terribly wrong for Davis, it’s worth analyzing where he could potentially end up on the list of Mets home run leaders should he spend his entire career with the team. This is perhaps premature, but a fun exercise nonetheless.

Last month I wrote a piece discussing the history of Mets home run hitters. In short, the list is not very remarkable. The table below lists the top ten Mets career home run leaders:

Rank Player Home Runs PA
1 Darryl Strawberry 252 4549
2 Mike Piazza 220 3941
3 David Wright 204 5453
4 Howard Johnson 192 4591
5 Dave Kingman 154 2573
6 Carlos Beltran 149 3640
7 Todd Hundley 124 2904
8 Kevin McReynolds 122 3218
9 Edgardo Alfonzo 120 4449
10 Ed Kranepool 118 5997

The totals there are rather unimpressive, to say the least. Strawberry and Piazza top the list, though neither of them spent their entire career with the team. Wright will probably pass them both in the coming years, though that is a result of his longevity with the team rather than his being an elite slugger. Strawberry flamed out (to put it kindly) and Piazza spent the first half of his career with the Dodgers.

Imagine what the list would have looked like if Strawberry had a long and lustrous career with the Mets. This is where Davis could shake things up. Again, assuming he spends his career with the Mets and doesn’t go off track, Davis could potentially be at the top of this list in the not-too-distant future.

Beyond the totals, Strawberry and Piazza were also two of the most prominent Mets home run hitters when considering AB/HR, or at-bats per home run. In their time with the Mets, Strawberry had a AB/HR ratio of 15.5 and Piazza came in at 15.8. Davis is not quite at that level, but he is not far off with a 16.2 career ratio.

Davis averaged 521 ABs in his mostly two full seasons (2010 and 2012), so that will be the projected number used for future seasons. With that in mind, his current AB/HR projects to about 32 home runs per year. At that rate, Davis would pass Strawberry’s total in about 7 years. That’s assuming his ratio doesn’t improve, which it very well could. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that Davis could have a few seasons where he breaks the 40 home run mark.

Of course, two seasons worth of data is an extremely small sample size and these numbers assume he has no major setbacks. But this is the start of Spring Training, and optimistic thinking is in full force. Take it in, folks, and enjoy watching your talented first baseman. You could be watching the future Mets Home Run King.

5 comments for “Ike Davis: Future Mets HR king?

  1. February 10, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Unfortunately so much depends on who is going to be hitting behind Ike so that pitchers will stop pitching around him. He has the talent to hit 40 home runs but he needs to add patience and game situations to not only improve his batting average but his on base percentage. If they’re going to pitch around him he has to accept that and stop with the fishing expeditions he tends to take. Strawberry was his own worst enemy and could have had a hall of fame career.

    • February 10, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Absolutely, Pete. However, d’Arnaud has the potential to become a very solid 5 hitter and could add protection for Davis. A 3/4/5 of Wright/Davis/d’Arnaud is a very exciting possibility.

      It’s sad about Strawberry. He could have been one of the game’s all-time greats.

  2. norme
    February 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Just imagine Ike playing 81 home games in Yankee Stadium or Citizens Bank Park or the Great American Ball Park. I’m sure that one of 360′s statistical wizards can come up with an approximate number of home runs that Ike loses in a season by playing half his games at Citifield.
    I guess that’s the trade off when you build a team that has great speed and can take advantage of the alleys—–whoops, I forgot.

  3. February 10, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    I think that Valley Fever really killed Ikes season last year, I’m expecting he has his best year this year.

  4. Joe Vasile
    February 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    The prediction of a few 40 HR seasons for Ike is very realistic. We saw during the second half of last year what he is capable of when fully healthy. He should crack 35 HR this year if he can be healthy and I think, anyway, he has an outside shot at 40. Also you made a point in the comments about how good a Wright/Davis/d’Arnaud 3/4/5 would be in a few years, and I agree. That could develop into one of the best middle-of-the-lineups in the National League if all works out.

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