Quick Hits: Ike Davis Has Quietly Been Much Better than You Think

By Dan Haefeli

It’s May 8th, and Ike Davis is hitting .177 (17-96, .217 BABIP) / .271 (31-111) / .313 (30-96) with 4 home runs, 8 RBI, and a 33:13 K:BB in 111 plate appearances.

Through May 8th last year, he hit .167 (17/102, .206 BABIP) / .227 (25/110) / .265 (27/102), with 3 home runs, 9 RBI, and a 31:8 K:BB in 110 plate appearances.

It looks similar, with two caveats – first, Ike has done much better at getting on base, earning six additional trips to first base (5 via walk, 1 via HBP). Second, Ike’s slugging percentage is much higher (due to an additional home run and the aforementioned walks). The strikeout rate is very similar, as is the underwhelming batting average on balls in play.

Last year, it took until the second week of June for Ike to shake off his funk, after which he was dominant (he hit .265/.347/.565 with 27 home runs from June 9th until the end of the season). He’d put together a decent week, and then regress terribly. So far, this season has been much the same. We’ve seen Justin Turner at first base, and have heard rumors of both Andrew Brown and John Buck getting reps there should Davis’ production not improve.

But maybe it has…?

Apr 19, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis (29) touches home after hitting a solo home run against Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (not pictured) during the sixth inning of an MLB game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of discussing how badly Ike’s been struggling this season, we’ve failed to notice that he’s raised his OPS nearly 200 points in the past three weeks, from a dismal .411 (after the first game of the Colorado double-header) to a middling-but-still-kinda-bad .592 entering tonight’s game against the White Sox. He’s hit .226/.323/.415 over that span, going 12/53 with a double, a home run, and seven walks. While a .738 OPS is nothing to write home about (especially not for a first baseman), it’s at least better than the major league average .720 OPS (.318 OBP, .402 SLG). His batting average on balls in play over that span has been .290, which matches his .286 career mark (keep in mind that home runs, as they don’t end “in play”, don’t factor into BABIP). The strikeout rate (29.7% in 2013) is still a concern, though it’s a bit early to panic (research suggests strikeout rate begins to normalize around 150 plate appearances).

It’s still early, and a bad week could effectively ruin it, but let’s keep this in mind: for all the discussion about how Ike Davis is struggling at the plate, we’ve completely ignored the fact that he hasn’t been particularly bad for the past three weeks. Couple that with his glove (which has been excellent this year), and the Mets could be doing a lot worse at first.

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