Was there something different about Ike Davis‘ swing last night? It certainly seemed like it since he doubled, homered, and drove three runs in, while scoring twice on his own. He now has 4 home runs and 12 RBI on the season, which is respectable, but he is far from being considered out of his season-long slump. When you’re a month into the season and your triple slash is .179/.237/.311, a couple of good games isn’t exactly going to turn it around- he’ll need 2-3 weeks to get back to what he’s expected to do. However, did anyone see the difference that I saw in Ike’s approach to the plate last night?
There was nothing different once he started his swing- that was how it usually looked to me. What I saw was that he was holding his hands in a completely different place from where they previously over the last month. Prior to seeing what I saw last night, Davis would get in his stance, and he would somehow be holding the bat in his hands down by his belt. Now, that looked pretty stupid to me, but when I was growing up in the game, coaches always told me that it’s not necessarily about where your hands start in your stance, but where they are before the bat is about to make contact with the ball. As long as a hitter’s hands are in that cocked, hitting position right back by their back ear, they would be in good position to bring the knob of the bat through the hitting zone to make solid contact.
So, even though Ike came into Spring Training this year holding his hands a lot lower than I had ever during his short career with the Mets, I figured, well, as long as he gets in a good hitting position, where he’s putting his hands before he swings really doesn’t matter. As the team went through the Spring and Davis struggled, Keith Hernandez would make comments here and there about the placement of his hands, which made me feel smart because Keith Hernandez and I were both thinking the same thing. As Davis continued to pile up 0fer after 0fer, I started to think more and more about the placement of his hands, but then brushed it off because it was only Spring Training.
As Davis struggled through this first month of the season, both Keith and myself continued to wonder why his hands were so low in his stance. The more I watched, the more it didn’t make sense to me. He started low, and when he loaded up, he would have to bring them all the way up to his ear before he went back down into the hitting zone…way too much movement, especially when there are only a few seconds to pull the trigger on a Major League pitch. I wonder if Dave Hudgens ever had a conversation with Davis to see why his hands were so low. I mean, you would think that would have been the first thing to come out of his mouth when Ike stepped into the cage in Port St. Lucie, but if it went on for this long…you never know.
I was extremely happy to see Ike’s hands held high in his stance last night, especially in the at-bat where he blasted that homer. He has an uppercut swing, so starting low, then loading high just to bring his hands back low made no sense. Now that his hands are high, he’s eliminated a second or two off of his loading process, which undoubtedly will help his timing. I was always taught that the least amount of movement a hitter can have from his pre-pitch routine to his swing is best, and it looks like Ike Davis might have finally figured out what could have been the problem all along. Now, we just have to wait and see.