Can We Back Off Of Ike Davis, Please?

By Rich Sparago

You can’t read a blog, listen to the radio, or watch a Mets’ game these days without hearing talk about Ike Davis. When is he going to be sent down? Is there a better option at AAA? The chatter goes on and on. Yes, Ike Davis is struggling badly. His .148 average is the lowest among major-league first basemen. His defense has also regressed this year (see the top of 9th on Wednesday for exhibit A). In many ways, Davis’s travails epitomize the first quarter of the Mets’ season. We were hoping to see the Mets show signs this year. We knew that they wouldn’t contend, but we hoped that we’d see tangible progress, the type of progress that would excite us for 2014. The Mets have not delivered. From Davis, we were hoping to see him build upon his strong second half of 2012. We wanted to be sure that the Davis we saw from June through September of 2012 was the real Ike. But Ike hasn’t delivered either. And following a normal path for us sports fans, many have chosen to vent their hostilities at the person most representative of a team’s disappointment. But if you’re focusing on Ike, you’re missing the bigger picture. Let’s take a look at a few other players.

May 22, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis (29) reacts after making the final out of the sixth inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Ruben Tejada: Tejada is second to last among major-league shortstops with a .224 average. His defense has been inconsistent all year. Tejada failed to get a sacrifice bunt down with the tying runs on base in the 10th inning of the suspended game yesterday. As a player with limited offensive skills (no power or speed), Tejada has to be fundamentally sound to stay in the major leagues. He has not been so far this year.

Lucas Duda: Duda is third from the bottom among major-league left fielders with a .228 average. Earlier this year, Duda was getting on base at around a 43% rate, and was on pace for 38 home runs. His OBP is now .351, and he’s on pace for 30 home runs. His average with RISP has been hovering around .120 (and he has been batting cleanup). Interestingly, even if he did hit 30 home runs, he’s on pace for 57 RBI. That’s almost incomprehensible. Duda is also a poor defensive outfielder.

Center Field: The Mets have gotten little from their center fielders. Rick Ankiel is batting .278 in only 36 ABs. Juan Lagares is hitting .163, and Collin Cowgill batted .157 while he was in New York.The three have combined for 5 home runs, two of which were from Cowgill, who is now in Las Vegas.

Right Field: Marlon Byrd is hitting .248, Mike Baxter is hitting .230, and Jordany Valdespin is hitting .207. This trio has produced 7 home runs on the year.

Mets’ pitching has also been spotty this year (beyond Matt Harvey). Jon Niese is the most surprising, posting a 3-5 record with a 4.80 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. The point is that there’s plenty of blame to go around on this club. Ike Davis may be taking the brunt of it, but, in my opinion, that’s unfair. Sandy Alderson is going to have to look at this entire roster, not just the first baseman, if he intends to be competitive next year.

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