Allan Dykstra And The Continuing First Base Debate


The commonly known scuttlebutt regarding first base is that Ike Davis is out, Lucas Duda is in, and that Duda will perhaps pair up with Josh Satin to form a platoon.  But what if I suggested the Mets finally lower the curtain on the yawn inspiring Davis and Duda show altogether?

Earlier today on the Hot Stove, Rising Apple editor Danny Abriano recapped some of the latest trade rumors, particularly regarding Ike Davis.

Aug 28, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis (29) reacts in front of home plate umpire Angel Hernandez (55) after striking out to end the seventh inning of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I’m open to any suggestions regarding first base.  During our last Rising Apple podcast, the boys and I generally agreed that Milwaukee’s free agent Corey Hart is an intriguing option to play first base.  He does however, have a history of injuries to both knees.

Signing Hart would no doubt be risky and worrisome.  As a right-handed batter, he would also squeeze Josh Satin out of the picture – not that Satin is an indispensable component of the future.  For the moment, however, Satin has done just enough to make me want to keep him around.

Since the future of first base is indeed wide open for debate, Mets free agent minor leaguer Allan Dykstra‘s recent performance demands that his name be at least included in the ever growing conversation.

Dykstra, 26, was a first round pick, selected 23rd overall out of Wake Forest in the 2008 amateur draft by Sandy Alderson’s administration in San Diego.  He played the majority of his class A+ ball in the Padres system.  In 441 official at-bats, Dykstra averaged .245 at the plate, slugged .433, and posted a .380 OBP.  He was traded to the Mets on March 29th, 2011 in exchange for pitcher Eddie Kunz.

Since joining the Mets organization, Dykstra has demonstrated progress across the board.  He has played in 305 games for the Binghamton Mets, and in 953 plate appearances, owns a higher .269 batting average, an improved .474 slugging percentage, and a likewise improved and impressive .415 OBP.

In 2013, Allan Dykstra turned in a career year for Binghamton, winning Eastern League MVP  honors.  In 372 official at-bats, he set career highs with a .274 batting average, 21 home runs, 82 RBI’s, a .503 slugging percentage, a .436 OBP, and a .938 OPS.  He drew 102 walks, hit 22 doubles, and scored 56 runs.

Overall, in three years playing Double-A ball, Dykstra has averaged 101 games played, 317 at-bats, 49 runs, 85 hits, 17 doubles, 15 home runs, 61’s RBI and 70 walks per season.  That line is skewed somewhat, as he only played 62 games for Binghamton due to injury during the 2012 season.

Does he have a strikeout problem?  You bet.  Dykstra struck out 123 times last year in 429 total plate appearances.  That’s a lot of unproductive outs that I’m willing to overlook.

One way or another, the Mets are faced with making a decision regarding Allan Dykstra.  He is a former first round pick, a six year minor league veteran, and is not listed on the Mets’ 40-man roster, making him eligible for minor league free agency.  The dollars spent on Dykstra, versus money spent on Davis or Duda through arbitration or in settlements, are all relative.  Retaining him is an option I would strongly consider.  Barring an offseason acquisition of a premium first baseman, Allan Dykstra can do no worse than the plan the Mets currently have in place.

What plan?

Allan Dykstra is currently off to a hot start playing winter ball in Venezuela.  In 27 at-bats, he has 11 hits (including 2 doubles and a home run) for a .407 average, a .593 slugging percentage, and a .529 OBP.

When a situation devolves into a matter of over-extending patience versus realizing potential, it is well understood that sometimes a change of scenery is in order.  Other teams have faced similar dilemmas with their own organizational players as well, and should have a level of empathy with the Mets’ situation and their potential motivation for moving Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.  Both of their strongest selling points are possessing unquestioned power to all fields and being major league ready players.  In Ike’s case, he is defensively sure-handed as well.  An acquiring club would still benefit from a (shortening) measure of financial control.

The Mets have given both Davis and Duda a fair chance at securing the first base job.  To date, Sandy Alderson has handled them on a reactive basis.  But the Mets are clearly growing  impatient with waiting for their year to year consistency to materialize.  Maybe the time has come to initiate a more proactive approach, and instigate a greater degree of change heading into the 2014 season.

If retained, Allan Dykstra would likely start the 2014 season in Triple-A with the Las Vegas 51’s.  Then, who knows?  If he continues to improve along his current trajectory, Dykstra could conceivably be ready for Flushing by early summer, or the trade deadline.  There is always a chance he can even earn a spot out of Spring Training as well.  As a left-handed hitter (who throws right handed), he could perhaps be eased into a workable platoon at first base with Josh Satin.

With regards to the immediate future, that’s just one idea.

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