Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Ike Davis dilemma

In a media market such as New York, Ike Davis of the Mets has been the topic of much conversation. As such, I am not sure how much more I can add to the conversation. At the very least, there are no emotional ties to the situation for me, so perhaps I can look at it from a calmer, less passionate perspective. The starting point of the story is that Ike Davis has nearly duplicated a disastrous April and May in 2012 this season. The two-month mess so nearly doubles what happened last year that it illustrates the dilemma this brings to the Mets.

How closely does Ike Davis' 2013 first two months resemble his first two months of a year ago? Check it out:
  • 2012 (through the end of May): .170 average, .524 OPS, 5 doubles, 5 homers, 12 walks, 49 K's
  • 2013 (through May 26th): .148 average, .475 OPS, 2 doubles, 4 homers, 16 walks, 54 K's.
Think about that for a minute. That is basically two months of a season that offers nothing but a black hole of a lineup spot. And if truth be told, 2013 is trending worse than 2012.

The dilemma for the Mets is that last season, Davis went the rest of the season hitting 21 more doubles, 27 more homers and 49 more walks. For as bad as Davis was in the first two months of 2012, he ended the season a plus 6.9 runs better than average on offense and with an OPS+ of 111. Patience with Davis appeared to be warranted and he had an .888 OPS in the second half. Can Ike Davis pull his season out of a hat (using polite speech here) again?

The dilemma goes deeper. It really was not until June 12 last season that Ike Davis started hitting. In other words, his woes went another two weeks. With crushing media and fan displeasure, are the Mets going to watch Ike Davis struggle two more weeks?

And as decent as Davis' season was in the end a season ago, there were two major problems that remained. First, he struggled mightily at Citi Field. Secondly, he was awful against left-handed pitching. Let's look at both of those a little more closely.
  • 2012 (Home): .188/.277/.342.
  • 2012 (Away): .262/.335/.566.
  • 2012 (against lefties): .174/.225/.355
This year's numbers thus far are so abysmal that the splits are meaningless. They are all bad. But if last year is a guide, then even if Davis pulls the same rabbit out of the hat this year that he did a year ago, then he is still going to struggle in half of his games (home) and in games against left-handed pitching. Consider that Ike Davis has walked just once against a left-handed pitcher all season.

The assumption so far has been that Ike Davis can finish this season like he did 2012. That is a huge leap of faith though. Can a guy keep playing a quarter of the season so poorly and still come out at least smelling decent? That, my friends, is not something I would bet on. And the problem right now is that Davis has confused everyone with what kind of talent he is. You cannot keep digging this kind of hole and expect to climb out.

But let's say he does do the same thing as last year and finishes near last year's numbers or a little below them. Is he still worth it? After all was said and done last season, Ike Davis was the sixteenth most valuable first baseman in baseball. Sixteenth when there are thirty teams does not seem to make the patience make sense. Davis is having a better defensive season this year than a year ago and that helps. And his base running is better too.

My assumption here is that Davis will not end up with as good as offensive numbers this season. His stats this year, as bad as last year's were at this time, still regressed. His defense and base-running make up the difference. But even a strong finish like last year will still make him finish in the bottom tier of value for first baseman. And I have already stated that such a strong finish is a long shot.

In my opinion, you cannot have a guy continue to stink up a quarter of your season. As good a guy as Davis is, as much as people like him, he is not the player that is going to get the Mets where they need to go. I like the guy too. But it is time for the Mets to cut bait and move on. 

1 comment:

Waldo said...

Thanks for some nice research and a temperate view. Of course, the Mets can be patient, since they're not going anywhere even if Davis hits like Joey Votto all year.