Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Ike Davis Era Begins?

The Fan hasn't been this excited for a long time. Every Spring Training baseball renews itself and as that short, wonderful preseason unfolds, Fans latch on to certain players. Jason Heyward? Check. Aroldis Chapman? Check. Stephen Strasburg? Check. Ike Davis? Check. Wait! Who? Before getting educated, all the Fan knew was that the Mets had this kid that simply pounded the heck out of the ball all spring. It was severely disappointing when he was sent down near the end of Spring Training. Well, give the Mets credit because unlike the Cubs who can't see the stone that hit them on the nose, the Mets saw that first base was a mess and pulled the trigger.

So Ike Davis started at first base on Monday night for the Mets. Never mind that this unexpected development seriously crippled the Fan's pick for this game, but Davis changed the dynamic of this game and of the Mets. Heck, it may just be for a night and Davis could struggle. But for a night, it was magic. Davis went two for four and collected his first two major league hits. One drove in a run in the inning that the Mets broke open the game. Plus, he played first base without incident, fielding his only play and catching all those infielder's throws.

Davis is a 23 year old kid from Endina, Minnesota. He was drafted by the then Devil Rays in the 18th round as a high school player, but he went on to college instead. That paid off big time as the Mets drafted him in the first round of the 2008 draft and he signed for a million and a half. His minor league stats show a guy with developing power and good patience at the plate. His performance did not drop off as he was promoted higher and higher in the Mets' system. Then he got major playing time in Spring Training and seemed to get one or more hits every game he played. He became a favorite box score target. And then he was sent down.

As you may or may not have noticed, the Mets have had problems at first base since Carlos Delgado lost his health. Last year, the Mets tried to make a first baseman out of Dan Murphy, a bad-fielding outfielder. Murphy learned on the job at first and at times it showed. Of course, you can never take away that play Murphy made over there last year that was last year's top Web Gem (trademark ESPN - just so we get that covered). But his batting line of .266/.313/.427 really isn't the kind of production you want from a first baseman, a position that usually means a crusher. And from Murphy's minor league stats, there were no indications that he was going to get any better.

Murphy started the season hurt (thus all the Davis at bats in the spring) and the Mets brought in Mike Jacobs, a guy they had drafted several years earlier. Poor Jacobs didn't get much of a look/see and did not produce in seven games at first. But in MLB, you've got to produce to stay and the problem for Jacobs is that his start in those seven games pretty much matched what he did last year for the Royals. The Mets tried to platoon Jacobs with Tatis, who is about 68 years old now and that wasn't working either. So the Mets had nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeing what Davis could do.

From the scouting reports, Davis isn't yet a polished first baseman, but he shows promise of being a good fielder there. The reports indicate that he has soft hands, is left-handed (a big plus for a first baseman) and has a huge wing span and good footwork. The question will be if he can make the adjustments on a daily basis as the National League learns any flaws in his approach at the plate. But heck, the Mets had to give this a try and you have to commend them for giving him a chance.

Ike Davis is a big kid at 6' 4" and looks like a first baseman. That's certainly different from the last Ike Davis who played in the majors. That Ike Davis was 5' 6" and played sixty years ago for three years, two of them with the Chicago White Sox. That little Ike Davis never did hit a major league homer and in his last year in the big leagues had the distinction of making 53 errors at short for those White Sox. Hey, this Ike Davis can't do any worse than that!

And so the Ike Davis era in New York may have started on Monday night. Time will be the determining factor. But for the first night of that era, you couldn't have asked for much more.


bobook said...

Davis is the son of ex-major leaguer Ron (Yanks, Twins, others) and is from the beautiful Minneapolis suburb of Edina. Would like to see the kid do well but I look at the Mets, see an incredibly poorly constructed team and wonder how in the world Minaya has a job.

Josh Borenstein said...

I'm excited about Davis. I just hope expectations aren't too high and Mets fans aren't setting him up to fail by calling him the savior.