JD DavisHe’s a right-handed hitter with power who can especially mash lefties. He’s a great clubhouse guy, affordable, and can play multiple positions, but none of them well. Fans and teammates love him and his enthusiasm, thump, and versatility make him a valuable bench piece. But, as a starter he gets exposed. His glove is a liability at any position. Are we talking about current Met J.D. Davis or former Met Wilmer Flores?

The point is, we’ve seen this movie before. Flores was as beloved a Met as there’s ever been and not just for his emotional on-field highlight. He had a knack for big hits and, in a pinch, he could play four positions. He lacked the range to play short, the footwork to play second, the arm to play third, and the right-handed glove and stretch to play first. Yet, we rooted hard for him because he was a great guy and a gamer with a clutch bat.

Playoff teams have guys like this on the bench. Expansion teams have guys like this playing every day. Davis would be a major weapon off the bench as a late inning pinch hitter. In double headers or when a player needs a rest, he can fill in at first base, third base, left field or right field. He also has a 94 mph fastball and was a college closer so he can mop up blowout games if needed. He can certainly DH in games at American League ball parks. But, for a team with real playoff aspirations, he simply does not belong in the everyday lineup. His play over this past week reminded us of how costly and all-too-common his errors are at third base and his play in left field the past two seasons was no better.

For now, the right move is to shore up the defense with Luis Guillorme or Jonathan Villar at third most games. Based on their respective track records, Villar has the superior bat, but Guillorme the better glove. Either is a vast improvement at the hot corner over Davis. Having a right-handed power bat available to pinch hit would be a great weapon for the Mets and having a reliable glove at third will save us a lot of runs and heartache.

10 comments on “J.D. Davis is a problem, but it’s not his fault

  • Wobbit

    Matt’s got it right. Except for the part of Villar’s bat, which I believe will be exposed over time. Villar is strictly a decent bench piece, hardly someone to count on for continuous performance. Guillorme has to prove himself worthy of everyday action. His 0-fer yesterday was unfortunate toward that goal.

    I was surprised and a little disappointed to see LG in the leadoff spot. After not starting for half a week, let him slide into this usual 8-hole and do his thing at the end of the order. Instead, Rojas ups the ante hoping to catch some lighting… it seems to be how Luis manages… hoping for lightning.

    Along those lines, expect Reid-Foley to be thrust immediately into higher-leveraged situations, eschewing any previous bullpen strategies… maybe to his detriment and to the team’s overall progress.
    We’ll see.

    I’m not fomenting a “Fire Rojas” movement here, but I am acknowledging that the young man may be in over his head, with not enough gravitas to hold down the tent in a windstorm… it’s a windstorm that is unlikely to abate, and the Mets might flounder if the starting pitching isn’t off-the-charts great.

    This Nationals series should show us something in that they have no Soto and we don’t see Scherzer… Mets need to take advantage, if they can get out of their own way. Mets look piecemeal with several pieces not fitting very well.

  • TexasGusCC

    Very interesting analysis Wobbit. Can’t say there’s disagreement in anything.

    Matt, good piece about Davis but teams aren’t perfect in every spot. I don’t think the Mets are ready to be picky yet. I’ll give the team two months to settle in before criticizing. Alderson took over the problem Brodie took over, and that was a roster without much planning. ‘You have these players here, and they need to fit in somewhere.’ It’s why eventually, some players need to go and make room for the guys that need to fill a certain spot more correctly. It’s why I advocated trading either Smith or Alonso in the off season. Not because they aren’t good players but to start putting the correct pieces in each spot. Then you need to clear out the plethora of corner outfielders, and lastly find your utility players.

    Davis appears to be better than a utility player but maybe not quite a third baseman. I see Davis as a more athletic version of Pete Alonso.

  • Footballhead

    With Rojas at the helm, this team will continue to under perform to about a .500 level (and no playoff). Is it all his fault? No. Yes, I’m stealing from Matt re: Davis, but it’s a good/great manager who can get the most out of the assembled pieces given to him by the front office. I don’t see that in Rojas. In these modern times, a managers hands seem to be tied up by the front office dictating who is even on the roster and how to use said pieces. I guess I miss the days that an M Donald Grant was afraid of his own manager/employee Gil Hodges; who called the shots as he saw fit.

    I know, I know…..I’m talking pre free agent dinosaur days.

  • Metsense

    Rojas should play play this third baseman situation out and hopefully one of the three candidates will emerge.
    Defensively: Guillorme , Villar then Davis
    Offensively: Carreer OPS: Davis .805, Villar .727, Guillorme. 699
    Best bWAR and year: Villar 4.5/2019, Davis 1.1/2019, Guillorme 0.7 2020
    Villar appears to be the best around player of the three. He is a switch hitter and base stealer and a power threat also. My money is on him.

  • ChrisF

    This team remains the square peg – round hole team its been for ages. Yes there are individual great seasons, as we cans ee in the hardware, but a team of all left fielders even if most we best in the game will never be successful. The team still has misfits at a number of places that ultimately will take a real toll. Dom in left, Nimmo in center, anyone at 3B. Its hard to make it work as a team with people out of place and limited physically to be where they are at.

  • TJ

    All points are well taken, but I’ll take a slightly different view. This offseason, the Mets made significant defensive improvements with a gold glove SS, a solid defensive catcher, and replacing Cano with McNeil at 2B. That is a lot of improvement “up the middle”. In addition to that, “weak” defensive players Alonso at 1B, Nimmo in CF , and Smith in LF, have provided decent defense, by some metrics (DRS) as well as the naked eye. Yes, yes, small sample. Per Fangraphs, Dom now in his last 250 LF innings has a zero DRS. Based on the trending, player ages, and player work habits, I am confident that Dom and Pete can provide league average defense at their positions. These are middle of the lineup bats. I am confident that Nimmo can play slightly below average CF defense, with elite leadoff and OBA skills. Sign me up right now for 4 more years of Nimmo leading off and playing CF, with Dom in LF and Pete at 1B and thumping in the middle of the lineup with Lindor.

    The defense has not looked good at points this season, but it is not near league bottom like it was. Many teams have square pegs in round holes, because of supply and demand…how many guys are top hitters and fielders?

    Hitting. Has. Been. The. Problem. I believe they have a league worst runs per game. The Mets are 7-7 and simply have not hit. Offense has been the overwhelming problem. They likely will hit, but if they don’t, they won’t look good this year, and every defensive mistake will be greatly amplified.

  • Wobbit

    It’s not that far a stretch to see the offense falling short of even modest expectations:

    What if
    McNeil hits .280 this year? Disaster…
    Nimmo puts up just average offensive numbers?
    Alonso hits 40 hrs with 80 RBI
    Smith regresses to .260/25/70
    Conforto bottoms out at .255/25/70
    Lindor underperforms at .265/20/55
    JD Davis gets only 350 ABs

    Am I that far out of line?

    Somebody has to catch fire and ignite the team… no guarantees it will happen for longer stretches…

  • Woodrow

    I was at the first game at old Shea Stadium. I was a fan of the 1969 club. I’m old school and as such value defense more than the modern fan or MLB executive. There is room for a good field no hit guy but it’s LF or 1B. And there is only room for one good hit no field guy. Therefor to me JD is a PH and trade bait.

  • MattyMets

    No team can have a gold glover at every position. Having late inning defensive replacements is great, but costly errors can happen in the early innings too. For Davis to be playable at third, a few things have to happen:
    1- Davis has to keep hitting the way he has been this week. .250 with a lot of strikeouts won’t cut it.
    2- Davis needs to cut down on the errors and at least not be awful
    3- Rojas must swap him out in late innings of close games and probably only use him as a pinch hitter when Stroman is pitching.

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