Defending the struggling Ike Davis

It’s the time of the year when everybody seeks out the guy who seems to be struggling the most, says he sucks, and then calls for him to be traded.  The culprit this year: Ike Davis.

Coming into Sunday’s matchup with the Nationals, Davis owned a .161/.254/.321 slash line and was striking out in 28.6% of his plate appearances.  Pretty ugly numbers, especially when you consider his slow start last season.

This has lead to articles, such as Matt Meyers’ at ESPN New York, claiming Davis as the poor man’s Carlos Pena, and many comments on this site as well as others saying that he has been a disappointment, a chronically slow starter, not a part of the future, and needs to go.

This kind of talk is silly and needs to stop.


Other than being a complete overreaction to a whopping two weeks worth of games played, it completely ignores the other factors that have hindered Davis’ production.

For exhibit A, I present his 36-game sample in 2011.  Slow starter?  I think not.  A .302/.383/.543 slash in April and parts of May disprove that pretty quickly.  In a more limited sample in 2010, the slash line is very similar.

So, now we come to the case of his terrible start last year.  I am 100% willing to write off last year as a lost season for Davis, ignoring everything that he did, even if the 32 home runs hit help to make my point.


Davis suffered from a nasty bout of Valley Fever during spring training, a disease that derailed the promising career of recently-retired Conor Jackson, and has been known to be deadly.  As a matter of fact, in the 1950s and 60s, the United States military tried to develop it as a biological weapon, originally as an incapacitant, than later as a lethal weapon.  It is still on the CDC’s list of Biological Select Agents and Toxins.

When that is all taken into consideration, ANY wrong that Davis did at the plate last year could and should be excused (with obvious exceptions being anything mechanical not attributed to the illness).

As for this year, let’s all chill out over a 15-game sample.  If it ends up being mid-May and he’s still hitting like Jeromy Burnitz circa 2002, then there may be reason for legitimate concern, but right now is the time to be calm.

I understand the frustrations with Davis’ production, but if we, as fans, simply give it time, Davis could bloom into the player the Mets hope he can become.

Until then, we’ll have to deal with being frustrated by weak groundouts to second base, line drives that go right at fielders, and a high K-rate.

And for those of you saying Ike can’t hit lefties and is a platoon player at best, may I point you in the direction of a terrific article by Mark Simon, who talks all about Davis’ adventures against southpaws.

Follow Joe Vasile on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.

58 comments for “Defending the struggling Ike Davis

  1. Chris F
    April 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Defend away…but once you start counting year after year, thats real time. Ok, give him til May. But the open stance, open hips and flailing at low and outside is a clear recipe. If I were an opposing coach I would punish any pitcher that didnt go outside on him for every pitch.

    • Joe Vasile
      April 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      I’ll admit, his plate appearances haven’t been pretty, but if Hudgens does his job and works on fixing some of those problems, they shouldn’t continue for too long.

  2. eric
    April 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    I agree with Chris F. I came into this season telling all of my friends not to worry about Ike – that he was going to have a huge year. He played well in Florida, leading all of us to think his troubles were behind him. But they aren’t. It’s not just his mechanics or his slow start, or his refusal to move closer to the plate, or his swinging at first pitches when EVERY pitcher knows it, and not making adjustments. It’s also the stuff he’s saying in the press – that he’s a home run hitter, that he just wants to hit home runs, that he’s not concerned and that by the end of the year the numbers will be there. He has been sounding stubborn in the press, as if it’s alright if he bats .240 and belts 30 homers. It’s not. It would be better for the team if he would make the adjustments that are SO obvious to everyone else, get his AVG and OPS up to respectable levels – even if it meant only hitting 20 homers. Of course, he would end up hitting more homers overall, because he’d get better pitches to see. But he has given an extremely immature impression over these first two weeks.

    • Joe Vasile
      April 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      I chalk his comments to the press up to frustration with having to answer questions every day about how he’s struggling. The best way to stop those questions? Start producing. Which I am confident he will. Hudgens needs to do his job and get him to make the adjustments that are necessary to make that happen; that’s what hitting coaches are for. I could care less if he hits .240, if he has an OPS somewhere in the .800 range and plays good defense, I’ll gladly take him, unless you can think of a 1B we could get as cheaply that would be better.

  3. Name
    April 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    It’s one thing to have a bad start. It’s another thing to look lost at the plate. He can’t recognize anything that the pitcher is throwing and it is very evident to the naked eye. Also the fact that his mechanics seem to change every year; why can’t he stick with one(preferably the stance from 2nd half last year)?

    Also, does he need to get his eyes checked out? Sometimes before an AB (or when he gets fooled badly on a pitch) he does this thing with his eyes (opens them real wide and then blinks a few times) that is leading me to believe he might have vision troubles.

    • Joe Vasile
      April 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm
    • Chris F
      April 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      I seem to recall reading somewhere that he wears contacts, and the blinking may be for hydration. But like you said, utterly lost at the plate except for the stray ball that goes across the plate. Absolutely no plate discipline or pitch recognition.

      Hudgens? Hes terrible. (Dont get me started on Warthen…Id of fired both). These are not new issues with Ike:

      1. Get closer to plate (is he afraid?)
      2. open your stance
      3. step to the mound not 1B
      4. Take live pitching, watch video, and learn from it.

      Problem mostly solved.

      • Joe Vasile
        April 22, 2013 at 3:58 pm

        Seems to me you think that Hudgens has been ineffective in relaying those messages to Davis, or that he’s “tuning him out”. I agree with you, it’s time for a change of hitting and pitching coaches. How Warthen made it out of the post-Jerry Manuel purge I have no idea. Perhaps he has compromising photos of the Wilpons.

  4. za
    April 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I don’t see Davis as part of the team long-term due to his inconsistency. If Duda hits better than Ike over the course of this season, I think the Mets will strongly consider moving Ike to make room for Duda at first.

    • Joe Vasile
      April 22, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      I’ll take Davis over Duda any day of the week.

      • eric
        April 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm

        In general, or just as a first baseman? At this point, Duda is far more of a complete player thank Ike. Going into Spring Training I would have agreed with you, but they have gone in opposite directions to start the year. And this is the potential that Duda has displayed in the past -it’s not a fluke. He’s gotten better while Davis has regressed.

  5. April 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    April he hits .200, May he hits 270 and by June 275 with 20 homers by the All Star break and people will have long forgotten April.

    • Joe Vasile
      April 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Precisely my point. If he does what major league hitters do and make adjustments, things will regress back to the mean, and the production will be there.

  6. steevy
    April 22, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Can TC at least not bat him cleanup until he get’s it going?

    • Name
      April 22, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      Can TC also learn how to manage a bullpen?

      I will say no to both of our questions

      • Joe Vasile
        April 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm

        Probably not, but at least he’s better than “I like to hit the second baseman second” Jerry Manuel.

    • Joe Vasile
      April 22, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      That is not an unreasonable request.

  7. Metsense
    April 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I hope Davis has a good year and Duda also. Either Duda or Davis should be traded next winter because Duda can’t play the outfield. If only one of them has a good year then the other should become the casualty. At that point, three full years should be enough to decide. If both have bad years, then it is obvious that they are the problem not the solution. Both Davis and Duda need to be better than the average NL first baseman. Sub average players lead to below .500 teams.

    • Joe Vasile
      April 22, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      There are MUCH worse problems and MUCH worse players on this team than Lucas Duda and Ike Davis.

      • eric
        April 22, 2013 at 8:21 pm

        I would actually say that Ike Davis is if not the worst player on the team right now – he is the most ineffective. Duda would have twice as many RBI’s right now if he was hitting where Ike is. Murphy and Wright are on base all the time and Davis aint doin squat. Yet, we still lead the league in runs scored. We’re winning in spite of Ike. You can’t really say that about any other key player on the team

        • Joe Vasile
          April 22, 2013 at 8:44 pm

          I could argue that Nieuwenhuis, Tejada and Cowgill are all more ineffective than Davis right now, and if you want to bring pitchers into it, Hefner and Laffey. Right now though, it’s a very small sample size. If he still looks this bad in May, I’ll be worried, but for now it is premature to make any kind of judgments about what kind of a player he is.

          • eric
            April 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm

            Niewenhuis and Cowgill aren’t being counted on for nearly the same amount of production as Ike. And Ruben at least gives you a good at bat most of the time – seeing a lot of pitches, working the count, taking the walk, etc. His defense has been shoddy so far, but he’s also made some spectacular plays this past week, and is pretty much contributing what you expect from the #8 hitter – it’s not even close who has been more effective between those two. Cowgill got love early and yes has been brutal of late, but he’s got more RBI’s than Ike in 20 less AB’s. Kirk is only on the team right now for late inning defense and will likely be sent down for regular playing time in Vegas soon. As for Hefner and Laffey – yes, they have stunk and have caused more losses, but Hefner only hurts us once every 5 days. Laffey is gone. I suppose you could say Recker has been less effective than Ike, but you know…that sort of misses the point.

    • Chris F
      April 22, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      I couldn’t agree more Metsense, average gets average. Average teams don’t win World Series rings. Ike is average. He ain’t no Joey Votto or Prince Fielder.

      • Joe Vasile
        April 22, 2013 at 8:41 pm

        He doesn’t have to be Votto or Fielder! His ceiling was never that of Votto or Fielder. Davis’ ceiling was always that of a solid everyday player, not a star. It was unrealistic to expect him to be more than that. In a lineup with Wright, d’Arnaud (if he can stay healthy), Flores, and down the road Brandon Nimmo, Davis won’t have to be a star, just a complimentary guy who has pop and plays a good first base.

        • Chris F
          April 22, 2013 at 9:37 pm

          Yes, I believe that hudgens and warthen are terribly underperforming-and in my eyes under skilled.

          I think the situation Metsense and I are trying to say is that passable does not win. Ike needs to be at the caliber of those players whose teams are playoff teams. Are there other problems? Certainly. Ike sitting on the interstate for 4 months is simply unacceptable. Duda has taken a new approach, and it’s working. Ike has regressed. Name said it best: he looks utterly lost out there.

          • Metsense
            April 22, 2013 at 10:27 pm

            Well said Chris. I am tired of below average players being accepted as solutions. My definition of below average is if the player is not in the top seven at his position in the NL and preferably in the top 5 of their league. I am not branding Ike as below average yet, but he was last year. There are too many other players on this team that are below average as you mentioned Joe. It means all should be addressed . If the Mets settle for less then they are never going to contend. Sandy has his work cut out for him but hopefully the salary coming off in 2014 will result in some judicious spending that will address most of the needs.

            • Joe Vasile
              April 23, 2013 at 12:16 am

              Last year his wRC+ was 110, which put him 7th in the NL amongst first basemen. Perfectly average by your definition. His fWAR was low, 1.0 (although it was as low as -1.9 at parts of the season), placing him 8th in the NL, right about average. He had the best walk rate of any NL first baseman, and get this, the 4th best ISO. Couple those numbers with a plus glove, and I just don’t see how he’s below average.

              I recognize that his struggles are frustrating. I hate seeing him roll weak grounders to second base on pitches he should be driving to left center and flailing and breaking balls in the dirt as much as anyone else, but he will turn it around. If it’s the end of May and he’s still on the interstate and not showing signs of coming around, we’ll talk then.

          • Joe Vasile
            April 23, 2013 at 12:05 am

            Brandon Belt was average last year. The Giants won the World Series. You can win and be successful with a First Baseman that isn’t a star.

            Also, Ike hasn’t been sitting on the interstate for 4 months, it’s been 2 weeks! I give him a pass for last year because of the Valley Fever. If he still looks this bad in May, then I’ll be worried, until then we need to keep level heads. Yes, he looks bad at the plate, but I’m sure their working on changing something so that that isn’t the case going forward.

            • Name
              April 23, 2013 at 12:11 am

              Why is Ike always changing his stance/working on something? I’m starting to think Ike Davis is uncoachable.

          • NormE
            April 23, 2013 at 11:04 am

            Chris F, I understand your frustration with Dave Hudgens concerning Ike. But, you also point out that Duda has been successful with his new approach. Don’t you think that Hudgens has played a role there?
            My impression is that, at this stage, Duda is more accepting of coaching help than is Davis. Perhaps, if Ike’s struggles continue, TC has to show him some tough love. I know it’s early, but Ike looks terrible. Not just a case of not getting the breaks.

            • Chris F
              April 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm

              HiNormE, It seems the recent OBP and OPS success of Duda is not coming out of Hudgens, but rather Sandy himself, who has mandated that the team be looking for at least 150 pitches per game. Hudgens has clearly been ineffective, particularly with getting lefty batters to manage lefty hitting, so much so, weve had to demote people to AAA (duda, Kirk) and talk about demoting people (Ike) based on the profound failure to deal with lefty pitching.

              • eric
                April 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm

                Chris –
                A lot of what I’ve been hearing about Duda’s success this season is due to the fact that he showed up to Spring Training a month early and was getting a ton of one-on-one time with Hudgens in the cage. I think it DOES come down to coachability. Duda seems to want to be a more complete hitter, while Ike seems content to just hit homers and strike out. He keeps saying – “one of these days they are going to start throwing me fastballs on the first pitch” or some variation of that. Guess what Ike — no they aren’t.

                • Chris F
                  April 23, 2013 at 1:44 pm

                  HI eric, Fair enough. I know that Sandy has come down hard on the coaching staff about plate discipline, which is now something Duda seems to really be learning. I can imagine he is getting coaching help. While that has been a success presently, it is long over due. The last 2 years have been particularly hard to watch for lefty batting. I saw an interview with Murph on SNY discussing his new for ’13 approach that he devleoped over the winter…and he didnt make a mention of Hudgens that I can recall. In any event, Ike seems like “Ike knows best” and his level of coachability seems far less than Duda’s as you point out. I think if this is what can take Duda over the edge, Id move him to 1B and shop Ike for whatever we can get for him. Duda can hit 30 bombs too.

  8. April 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Ike has real power, when all was said and done he had over 30 home runs last year. I don’t think he will hit for enough of an average to be a star but power is not easy to find. We have bigger problems than Davis.

    • Joe Vasile
      April 23, 2013 at 12:06 am

      I agree that there are far bigger problems than Davis, but I doubt he’ll ever hit for a high enough average to be a star. He’s a .260-.270 hitter at best.

      • eric
        April 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm

        If Ike Davis hits .270 with 30 homers a year, in my book he’d be a star. And that is what he needs to produce. Unfortunately, it looks like he may be more of an Adam Dunn-type and only hit around .230.

  9. April 23, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Maybe we can trade him for another player that sucks righ now. My sucky player for your sucky player. He plays in Miami….Giancarlo Stanton. It’s only April, how many good players are in the same boat of suckyness?

    • Joe Vasile
      April 23, 2013 at 10:29 am

      Are you seriously offering an Ike Davis for Giancarlo Stanton swap? There is no way Miami does that. If the Mets could pull that off, Sandy Alderson should be nominated for sainthood because it would take several miracles.

      • Chris F
        April 23, 2013 at 10:52 am

        Well Joe, Ill hand it to you. You get an A+ for trying to talk us all off the ledge! Because there is not a “now” solution to this, I sure hope we can revisit this interesting discussion come ASG time. And as far as Im concerned, hope you are as right a Matt Harvey 98 mph, low inside fastball with late life!

  10. Metstheory22
    April 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Joe, Of course not. That is why I included: (It’s only April, how many good players are in the same boat of suckyness?)

  11. eric
    April 23, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I agree Chris. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Duda hit 30 homers this year and bat around .275-.280. Not sure he’d be much better defensively at 1B than in the OF, but if Davis could net us a shutdown arm in the bullpen, or a starting Right handed corner OF, I’d be ok with that. Attitude is everything, and at this point Duda is showing he’s willing to learn, while Ike is not.

  12. eric
    April 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Oh, and in regards to Murphy – he’s a much more polished and professional hitter than either Duda or Davis – probably doesn’t need as much coaching there. But yeah, in general I think Warthen and to a slightly lesser degree, Hudgens should have been replaced. I’d like to see Bobby Ojeda as the pitching coach. Not sure who they have in the pipeline to coach the batters.

    • eric
      April 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      Maybe Keith would retire from broadcasting and get back on the field in that role. That would be AWESOME.

    • Chris F
      April 23, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Bobby O would seem like a real logical choice, as long as he wants to make that kind of time commitment. It was hard to hear that Dave Magandan is batting coach for the Rangers…why not the Mets?

  13. eric
    April 23, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I hadn’t heard that about Magadan. Man he was good for a couple of years there. In a perfect world – the Mets could just fire Warthen and Hudgens, broadcast Keith and Ronnie during the games and listen to what THEY say. :-)

  14. April 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    The comparison to Carlos Pena is absurd. Pena can’t hit his weight on an annual basis. Ike is just struggling early, like a lot of ball players are.

    He’ll turn it around.

    • Name
      April 23, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      Doesn’t seem too absurd to me. Pena has been a nice player and had a nice career.
      His career year was in 07 when he posted 7.2 WAR and from 07-09 he hit about 40 HR’s a season and produced about 15 WAR.
      Also, the percentage of balls not put into play(HR/BB/SO) rate when he was young is also very similar to Ike’s(around 35-40%). Also most of us figure Ike to be in the .230-.260 range, which is where Pena has been his whole career.

      So I think it wouldn’t be a bad comparison to call him a “rich man’s” Carlos Pena(or Carlos Pena is a poor man’s Ike Davis)

  15. John
    April 24, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Keep it old school simple.
    Davis and Duda are 2½, maybe 3 tool players on a good day, and THAT IS ALL THEY WILL EVER BE. They are clodhoppers who can’t hit the curve or high and tight heat with the required consistancy. Don’t expect otherwise, it ain’t gonna happen.
    You need 4 and 5 tool players, at least three good quality, durable starting pitchers, a couple of middle inning guys, a good closer and dependable bench players to make it to the series.
    To think otherwise is dreaming, but that’s our lot as Met fans!

    • Chris F
      April 24, 2013 at 7:30 am


  16. Jerry Grote
    April 25, 2013 at 3:11 am

    I’ll beat this drum endlessly … Ike Davis can’t hit LHP. The author has used that 110 slice of rookie ABs to say its overdone, but its not.

    My fear is that Davis will get hot for a month and the Mets will make a Phillies/Howard type blunder and ignore what any fan that comes to the ballpark without his rose-colored glasses can see …

    Committing a team to a #4 hitter with dramatic splits – unless the upside against RHP is phenomenal – is a fool’s errand. By all means, keep Davis if the commitment in the lineup/financial commitment is commensurate with what we see on the field.

  17. eric
    April 25, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    The following quote from Ike after today’s game says it all…

    …Davis apparently wasn’t as sure opposite field was the route to break out of a rut, telling reporters postgame: “Sometimes they’re helpful. Sometimes they’re not. Me slapping the ball the other way early in the count is probably not helpful.”

    He just doesn’t get it, and he is so stubborn. Getting some opposite field base hits early in the count is EXACTLY what will help him, but he seems to be content with a useless solo homerun every 20 at bats.

    • Chris F
      April 25, 2013 at 7:40 pm

      he’s clearly not content though. His 3x per game post strike out expression is priceless. He’s not content, he simply doesnt get it…and obviously not interested in learning it.

      April 25, 2013…Im glad someone is aware of the issue:
      “As we’ve studied his at-bats, they’re just killing him away,” Collins said after the Mets lost to the Dodgers, 3-2, Thursday afternoon. “So we’ve tried to get him to where he covers the outside part of the plate. Ike has moved up on the plate to take away the outside pitch. And I thought last night, the two balls he hit to left field, were the start.”

  18. Chris F
    April 27, 2013 at 9:03 am

    The following drivel came out of TCs mouth (reported this morning in espn Mets blog), and it highlights the delusional Mts coaching staff:

    ” Collins preached patience and insisted any consideration about demoting Ike Davis is a long way away. The manager tried to compare Davis’ struggles to the woes of Matt Kemp, who arrived in Queens with the Dodgers this week homerless. Yet Kemp still was respected by the Mets as a dangerous bat, according to Collins. “I looked at Matt Kemp’s numbers the other day,” Collins said. “They weren’t very good for Matt Kemp. I’m still scared to death of him. And you can be sure that the Philadelphia Phillies, when Ike Davis gets in the batter’s box, they’re worried, because they know he’s going to get out of it.”

    Matt Kemp compared to Ike Davis, priceless. Now there’s a trade I’d make all day every day and twice on Sunday. We should have Sandy call Ned.

    • Name
      April 27, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      I don’t think you He’s not comparing them in terms of player value, but rather two formerly good players who were struggling.

      However, I think TC made an apples to oranges comparison. While I haven’t watched Matt Kemp in other games, i’m sure that he has had decent AB’s and was just not getting good results. Ike, however, has had terrible results AND looked totally lost at the plate. That is the key difference. I can understand a player who is putting together good AB’s but isn’t getting good results(like Tejada), but if you have no clue what you’re doing at the plate, you need to be sent to the minors.

      Terry is also delusional if he thinks that any pitcher is scared of Davis right now. Away away away. Simple as that.

      • Chris F
        April 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm

        Funny you mention it. The double was inside after 4 outside pitches. I was seeing the pitch location n my phone.

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