Ike Davis has become the most polarizing player on the Mets. Oh, sure, some people get worked up about Juan Lagares and Eric Young Jr. but those two simply don’t bring the … baggage that Davis carries with him.
Davis seemed destined to be a fan favorite. A first-round draft pick who advanced quickly through the system, Davis had a strong rookie season at the plate and he excelled in the field. It looked like more of the same when he got off to a strong start in his sophomore season, but then he got injured and missed most of the year. And his career has been all up and down since.
A strong second half in 2012 and it looked like Davis was back on track to be a star player. But then he abandoned the stance that was so successful for him, the one that helped produce a 32-HR season. He got off to another dreadful start at the plate and his body language was horrible. Perhaps things reached their worst point when he refused to field a ground ball. Or maybe he hit rock bottom when he (finally) got sent to the minors.
Davis seemed like a different player when he returned to the majors. At last he was not chasing pitches a foot out of the strike zone. And then whatever momentum he may have been building was derailed when he got hurt again.
For most players, the offseason is a chance for things to calm down. But Davis isn’t most players. It seemed a foregone conclusion that the Mets would deal him but then they didn’t. Then Davis’ dad blasted the team for how it treated his son. It looked like things might change in Spring Training when Terry Collins praised his new swing. But Davis couldn’t stand peace and tranquility and ended up getting in a public dispute with a beat writer. There’s no telling what will happen next in the Davis circus.
Meanwhile, Lucas Duda just carries on. The only time we heard his name was in a positive manner, as he showed up at the team’s fitness camp in Michigan. Sure, Mets management tried to involve Duda in the craziness, suggesting that he’s once again an option in the outfield. But Duda refused to take the bait.
It would be borderline criminal if the Mets tried to make Duda play the outfield again in anything but an emergency basis. There are enough outfielders on the club and let’s face it – Davis would probably be a better outfielder and he may not have played the position since Little League.
No, one of these guys is going to be the first baseman and one’s going to be elsewhere, whether that’s in Las Vegas or in another organization completely. So, what does the future hold for these two first basemen? Let’s start off with Davis:
No one thinks he’s going to hit 30 homers this season, although Mike Koehler projects a solid year for him. And there’s no overwhelming consensus if he’ll remain a Met all season, with the votes split as evenly as can be with 13 players. Now let’s look at our projections for Duda:
No one thinks Duda’s going to hit 30 homers, either. But more of us expect he’ll finish the year with the club. Of the eight that expect him to finish the season with the Mets, the lowest predicted OPS is the .740 mark offered up by Doug Parker. Half of that group thinks he’ll post an .800 or better OPS, with Sean Flattery’s .831 mark leading the pack.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of our expectations for the two players vying to be the starting first baseman.
We expect Davis to have more power but Duda to have the better overall offensive season and be the one to remain with the Mets when all is said and done. Regardless of who wins the job between Davis and Duda, Josh Satin figures to get some ABs versus LHP. Neither Davis nor Duda – even if the other is dealt during Spring Training – figures to get 600 PA in 2014.
It’s time for closure in the Davis-Duda debate. Some of us recognized this back in 2011 and now it’s apparent to everyone. And that makes Sandy Alderson’s job a bit more difficult. So far Alderson has refused to sell either player for pennies on the dollar and it’s hard to see that changing anytime soon. From a distance, it almost seems like a game of chicken with other GMs, who figure that Alderson will either cave and meet their trade demands or possibly place one of the players on waivers.
But that seems unlikely to me. While the Duda to the outfield ploy reeks of gamesmanship, it would surprise few of us if the Mets ended up sending one of the two to Triple-A, as they both have an option remaining. That would be less than ideal but the whole situation has been less than ideal for years now, so what’s a few more months?
Somewhere in the next six months, the Mets’ version of the “Quisp or Quake” debate will finally be over. But unlike in the cereal wars of days gone by, the fans don’t get to vote. Since we think Duda would be the better offensive player based on our projections, in our world Duda is Quisp and Davis is Quake.
Check back Monday for our next entry in the projection series.