COMMENTARY | After what ended up being a Jekyll and Hyde 2012 season, there was hope Ike Davis would be productive for an entire year in 2013. That hope was strengthened as the New York Mets watched their first baseman hit .327/.431/.455 during Spring Training. However, Davis has once again watched the month of April come and go, leaving him and all Mets fans nothing but frustrated.
Where did Ike stand compared to last year at this time? It's virtually identical. In 81 April 2012 at-bats (22 games played), Davis was hitting .185/.241/.309 with three home runs, eight RBIs, and 24 strikeouts. This season, he accumulated 85 at-bats in April, but has only mustered a .165/.265/.318 line with four home runs, eight RBIs, and 29 strikeouts. It could be argued that Davis is struggling even worse now than he was at this time last year.
I'm usually a proponent of allowing players to work through their rough patches, but there was a point last season where I reached my boiling point with Ike's struggles. My patience is thin this year, and I'm already tired of watching him and his poor approach every time he walks to the plate. When the offense was scoring a lot of runs, it was easy for Terry Collins to say he's not hurting the team, allowing him to work it out on his own. Now, it's on display more than ever, as the Mets have hit .189 in their last 12 games, including an abysmal .098 with runners in scoring position during their recent six-game losing streak.
When asked what his first baseman needs to start doing in order to bust out of his slump, manager Terry Collins has said Davis needs to start driving the ball to the opposite field. In response to that, Ike said he's not sure how that would help. This could just be the frustration from his slump talking, but it's obvious that trying to pull everything isn't working, so he should probably try something different.
Keith Hernandez gave his analysis and opinion on Ike, and he said that he's jumping out at the ball. Pitchers are staying on the outside part of the plate against Davis, and instead of waiting for the ball to get through the zone, he's hitting it out in front of the plate. With pitches on the outer half, making contact in front of the plate doesn't allow him to put any power in his swing. The only way he can hit an outside pitch with some authority is if he lets the ball travel further in the zone, and hits it to left field.
Davis has seen fastballs 58.1% of the time this season, which is a drastic increase from 2012 (48.9%). With that rise in fastballs, he's also seen a lot less curve balls, as the frequency of that pitch has decreased from 18% to 9.8%. What does that tell us? It means that pitchers can clearly see that Davis has abandoned going the opposite way. Instead of using their secondary pitches, they've found it's easy enough to use their fastball on the outer half of the plate to get him out.
Combine that with some of the comments Davis has made to the media about his slump, and it sounds like he not only needs an adjustment to his approach, but also to his attitude. Sending him to the minors would do the trick. I'm tired of watching him head to the plate trying to hit home runs every at-bat. If he focuses on staying through the middle of the field and hitting balls from gap to gap, the home runs will come. At this point, I'd rather see Terry Collins pencil Justin Turner into the lineup as the first baseman. He won't provide the same kind of defense or power potential that Ike does, but he can at least get on base and help make things happen on offense.
Matt Musico's Mets opinion has been featured on MLB Trade Rumors, MetsBlog, Amazin' Avenue and Rising Apple. He also provides his analysis and opinion on the rest of Major League Baseball at his personal blog, On The Way Home.
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- Ike Davis
- Terry Collins