Once a fixture at first base and a rising star for the New York Mets, Davis’ star crashed back to Earth. Rumors of trades and cuts have lingered all winter, so much so that even the player is surprised to be back at Port. St. Lucie for Spring Training.
Recent reports of continued interest from the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates prove the market hasn’t dissolved quite yet, but many Mets fans are anxious to run him out of town one way or another.
And for good reason. Major League-caliber first basemen don’t have .161 averages, hit five home runs in 55 games and ruin their elite defense by taking their offensive struggles into the field. They certainly don’t chew out umpires for their woes.
But there was a reason the Mets were intrigued by Davis in the first place and there’s a reason he’ll get another shot, whether it be in New York, Maryland or Pennsylvania.
Davis tallied 861 plate appearances during four years in the minor leagues, including 92 plate appearances in Triple-A Las Vegas last season. His numbers throughout that campaign were promising, bolstered by a strong 2009. Split between High-A and Double-A, the first baseman smacked 20 home runs, slashed .298/.381/.524 and walked 57 times compared to 112 strikeouts. Only once did his batting average dip below .260, his rookie year in Low-A Brooklyn in 2008 when he hit .256 with no home runs. And for someone who struck out so much – 290 strikeouts, he also collected 163 walks to build a .375 career OBP in the minors.
Davis was hitting .364/.500/.636 with 2 home runs in 42 plate appearances with Triple-A Buffalo when the Mets called him up in 2010. His patience at the plate continued in Queens, finishing the season with 72 walks, 138 strikeouts and a .351 OBP to go along with 19 home runs.
An ankle injury during a collision with David Wright shortened his 2011 season, although he hit .302, slugged .543 and smacked 7 home runs in 149 plate appearances.
Davis played a full season in 2012, but was reportedly plagued by Valley Fever. He said the fungal infection sapped his strength, although he did accumulate 584 plate appearances that year. His overall offensive numbers were dreadful through June 8 – 5 home runs and a .158/.234/.273 slash. But like black and white, as bad as the first half of 2012 was, the second half was tremendous. The first baseman finished the season with a .227/.308/.462 to go along with 32 home runs. Considering the low batting average, Davis again had a respectable OBP.
Met fans were optimistic the real Davis had returned and would be ready to dominate in 2013. Oh how wrong we were. He couldn’t hit, couldn’t field and couldn’t stay out of the limelight. After a generous 55 games, Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins mercifully demoted Davis with Mike Baxter and Robert Carson in exchange for Josh Satin, Josh Edgin and Colin Cowgill on June 9. He returned to Queens a month later and a changed player. Gone were the home runs, but back with a vengeance was his ability to get on base. A .286/.449/.505 second half slash powered a 2013 campaign of .205/.326/.334. He hit 9 home runs in all of the 377 plate appearances last year, 5 in the 239 in the first half and 4 in the 138 of the second half.
Clearly consistency is not part of Davis’ vocabulary. It’s impossible to predict the young player’s from one season to the next. But, perhaps as an exercise in futility, if we expand the second half of 2013 into a full season with 600 plate appearances for 2014, Davis finishes with 17 home runs and 139 walks.
It doesn’t require dreams of a Chris Davis-esque renaissance to tell that maybe Davis isn’t a bust quite yet.