Happy Friday, everyone! Welcome to part three of our Rising Apple Roundtable Discussion, as each writer on the staff chooses who they feel will be the most valuable hitter on the Mets roster in 2013. One pick was incredibly popular, but there were a couple who went against the grain and chose someone different.
Matt Musico, Senior Editor: Lucas Duda
All eyes will certainly be on Ike Davis this year, as he’s expected to put together a 2013 season like the second half of 2012. He needs to provide that kind of power to protect David Wright in the lineup, which makes him valuable in that clean-up spot. What about protection for Davis, though? That’s why my most valuable hitter for this season will be Lucas Duda. After struggling last season (.239/.329/.389, 15 HR, 57 RBI) and getting a demotion to Triple-A, he needs to step it up and instill some fear into opposing pitchers, enough to force them to not pitch around Davis. So, he needs to have a season more in line with 2011 (.292/.370/.482, 10 HR, 50 RBI), and not put so much pressure on himself to hit homers; as long as he focuses on putting the ball in play, the power will come. As Dan Haefeli wrote a couple weeks ago, his patience at the plate is there, he just needs to get more aggressive at the right times. He’s been in PSL for a while already working on his swing, and if he gets back on track, this lineup could really take off. Plus, with another year under his belt, he needs to become more mature, which will help him climb out of slumps a little quicker.
Michael Lecolant, Senior Staff Writer: David Wright
David Wright’s pending free agency, potentially leaving the only team he’s ever known, receiving fair market value, and issues of being shown respect by the organization, are all matters safely behind him. He has his new contract, and should now have a clear mind. He better, for David Wright is the team captain. He is in the middle of his physical prime as a player, and health, which compromised two of his last four seasons, is on his side again.
As the line-up’s number three hitter, he occupies the slot most commonly filled by a club’s best hitter. Also with a return to full health, Ike Davis seems poised to have a breakout season hitting behind Wright. Until the Mets secure a legitimate lead-off hitter, Ruben Tejada and/or Daniel Murphy still remain capable bats hitting in front of him. Therefore, with David’s docket of potential worries cleared, and Ike Davis providing him with protection in the line-up, the onus is back on David Wright to be the club’s premiere contributor.
After a troublesome 2011 regular season, Wright made an appreciable return to his former productivity last year. Hopefully, 2012 was an indication that David Wright is roaring back into form. But he didn’t quite reach his former heights. His last four seasons have been a mixed bag of goods. He has experienced a pair of recurring down, then up seasons. To be fair, taking a fastball to the helmet, the demise and dismantling of his former band, and back problems, all contributed towards his mixed results.
Entering 2013, there are few reasons to believe David Wright cannot become the team’s triple crown threat again. He posted a .306 batting average last season, which marked the first time he batted above .300 in four years. Five times David Wright drove in over one hundred runs. Last season he fell seven RBI short. He last drove in one hundred runs (103) as recently as two years ago. Wright also cracked the twenty home run mark for the sixth time in his career. However, he failed to post a slugging percentage above .500 for the third time in the last four years. So I’m hoping this is the season he revisits the standards he set for himself between 2005 and 2010.
Sam Maxwell, Staff Writer: David Wright
Though he tailed off some at the end of 2012, I see David stepping up big time now that he has signed a long-term contract. The young hitters around him are getting better (hopefully Duda can join Murph, Tejada and Davis to strengthen protection around our Captain.) Any progress Ike makes this year will only help Wright. Ike would be my second choice, and though he might have double the power Wright produces at this point, their RBI totals are similar and I expect Wright to have a better average, even if Ike can get his up closer to .300. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Freshly Minted Face of the Franchise has the best season of his career.
Danny Abriano, Staff Writer: Ike Davis
Davis was abysmal during the first few months of the 2012 season. Because he denied that his supposed case of Valley fever was bothering him, Davis’ performance was more than alarming at the time. Now that Davis has recently admitted that the Valley fever (or whatever it was) turned him into a shell of himself for much of the first half of 2012, his season must be viewed differently. The question mark that was placed on him due to his early struggles should be erased.
Davis was impressive as a rookie in 2010, and was off to an incredibly hot start in 2011 before a freak ankle injury ended his season early on. Now that it’s known that Davis was fatigued for the first few months of last season (while he was also still not fully recovered from his ankle injury), it’s clear that the sky is the limit for him. Even with his almost unfathomable struggles early in 2012, Davis still managed to eclipse 30 home runs and 90 RBI’s. Most Mets fans are salivating over what an uninterrupted season may look like for Davis numbers wise. I’m one of them.
The pick of Davis as the most valuable hitter isn’t entirely by default. I expect David Wright to have another big year. Up the middle, both Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy should be solid; it’s Davis, though, who has the potential to (as Nuke LaLoosh says in “Bull Durham”) announce his presence with authority.
Will DeBoer, Staff Writer: Ike Davis
After a long layoff and bout with Valley Fever sank his first two months in 2012, Ike Davis got things together on June 9, hitting .265 with 27 home runs, 69 RBIs, and a .913 OPS in his final 100 games. At age 26, he is still a couple years from reaching his prime, and barring any 2011-esque freak injuries, 2013 will be his first “full” season in the major leagues (because no one would say he was a major-leaguer before June 9). At least in the early months of the season, Davis will see a lot more high-pressure situations hitting behind a man who finished sixth in the MVP voting last season and just signed the richest contract in Mets history. If Ike takes advantage of pitchers under-preparing for him while focusing on David Wright, however, pitchers will start paying attention to him, and in turn Wright will start getting better pitches. Taking into account both his visible talent and the potential added Wright factor, I Like Ike to be the most valuable man at the plate for the Mets in 2013.
Kevin Baez, Staff Writer: Ike Davis
Despite struggling for most of the first-half of the season —.207 BA, .271 OBP – Davis gathered himself nicely the rest of the way and showed his true potential as a middle-of-the-lineup power hitter. Although 2012 was a tale of two seasons, Davis still managed to reach the 90 RBI mark, while tallying a team-leading 32 homers. With the ankle injury a thing of the past, I expect Davis to continue to showcase his second-half performance. While I don’t expect Davis to rack up offensive numbers at the same quick pace he did towards the end of the 2012 season, I can easily envision Davis as a 35 home run guy who compiles 100+ RBI’s in 2013.
Rich Sparago, Staff Writer: Ike Davis
As we all know, Ike Davis had a rough first half last year. When you consider his case of Valley Fever, and that he missed most of 2011 due to an ankle injury, it makes sense that it took Davis half of a season to get his stroke back. Davis still managed to slug 32 HRs and drive in 90 runs last year. Looking at his Fan Graphs projections for 2013 (Bill James), Davis is expected to hit 31 home runs, drive in 94 runs, while posting a .266 BA. I think these projections are significantly on the light side. A full season of a healthy Davis, in my opinion, can produce 40 HRs and at least 100 RBI. Davis is a prototypical power hitter. He will strike out quite a bit (James projection is 20.7%). But Davis can produce runs in a hurry, and is the Mets only true power hitter. If David Wright and Lucas Duda can bookend Davis in the order with productive seasons, Davis should be able to put up the finest offensive season of his career.
Dan Haefeli, Staff Writer: Ike Davis
162 games (143 starts): 621PA .265/.347/.565; 33 2B, 44 HR, 112 RBI 11.2% BB/21.4% K. Does such a stat line sound unreasonable? Maybe. But perhaps it shouldn’t, because that’s the pace Ike Davis was on from June 9th through the end of 2012. Once Ike was able to shake off the rust from nearly 11 months away from baseball and his almost-bout with Valley Fever, he returned to not only anchor the Mets’ lineup, but to spend four months as one of the game’s most dominant hitters. His .565 slugging percentage over that span led National League first basemen; his .287 ISO after the all-star break led the National League and was third in the majors behind Miguel Cabrera (.330) and Adrian Beltre (.288). Davis is the Mets’ most feared power hitter and should continue to establish himself in the upper echelon of elite sluggers. Davis’ offensive potential will pay dividends for his teammates, by allowing David Wright to see better pitches batting third and reducing the pressure players like Lucas Duda and John Buck might feel to produce such lofty power numbers. In 2013 Davis will not only lead the Mets in home runs, he has a legitimate shot at leading the National League.
Who do you think will be the most valuable hitter for the Mets in 2013? Do you agree with one of us, or do you have someone different in mind? Please let us know in the comments section.
Make sure to watch out for the next installment of the Rising Apple Roundtable Discussion on Sunday, as we each choose who the most valuable reliever will be this season, as the New York bullpen tries to bounce back from an awful 2012 showing.