And it shouldn’t even be a debate.
But leaving it at that would be kinda dull, wouldn’t it? Since it’s come up, let’s go a bit deeper. Yesterday on MetsBlog, Matthew Cerrone linked to a quote by Ray Guilfoyle regarding whether or not Ike Davis is an elite power hitter. It’s a good article, and I recommend taking a moment to read it.
Matt highlighted the following quote on MetsBlog, and I’ll use it again here (click the quote for a link to the article):
“Davis will have to improve in two areas before reaching the 40 home run plateau. He needs to hit better than .174 vs lefties, as he did in 2012. … In addition, Davis was horrible at home last season. … If Davis can get off to a hot start like he did to start the 2011 season, before his ankle injury, and show some improvement hitting at home and vs lefties, I see him challenging for the National League home run title in 2013. He hit 32 home runs in 2012 after a horrible first two months, and ended the season tied for fourth in the NL in homers, so he has a very good shot at the NL home run title should he be able to put together six power-filled months like he did in June through September last season.”
While I won’t and can’t argue that Davis does need to improve against left-handed pitching, I don’t think it’s necessarily a roadblock on the road to 40. I say this because, while Ike hit a paltry .174 against lefties in 2012, that average was 10 points higher on May 24th. While he became a better overall hitter (his OBP rose 25 points and his SLG 8 points) vs. lefties as the season progressed, he was still getting fewer hits, and the ones he was getting weren’t for much greater power. Similarly, his poor play at home didn’t change very drastically after his turnaround, and seemingly didn’t stop him from cranking 27 dingers in the last 2/3 of the 2012 season.
Neither of these deficiencies managed to keep him from hitting .263/.343/.566 with 27 home runs over his last 99 games (June 10th – end of season, 379 plate appearances). [Fun Fact: Davis' .909 OPS over that span led all National League first basemen]If we simply assume that Davis can replicate those last 99 games over a full season (let’s assume 650 plate appearances), Ike would hit 46.9 home runs, which would put him in excellent position for a home run title (Ryan Braun led the NL with 41 in 2012).
The Ike Davis of June-September 2012 is absolutely, undeniably a 40-home run hitter in the Mets lineup. That Davis was still a poor (some would say terrible) hitter against left-handed pitching, and performed somewhat abysmally in Queens. Neither issue should keep him from reaching that plateau in 2013. That said, if he can fix either (or both) we can begin to consider much higher plateaus.