J.D. Davis is showing how much he contributes to the offense. As the New York Mets move forward, they should plan to think of him as a possible future starting left fielder.
J.D. Davis didn’t do much during his time with the Houston Astros in 2017 and 2018. After years of obliterating minor league pitching regularly with home runs and a high slash line, Davis has finally found his big league stroke as a member of the 2019 New York Mets.
On another team and in another situation, we may have seen Davis win the third base job outright. He’s hitting for good but not exceptional power. More important to his success in the big leagues, he’s flat-out hitting and doing it on a regular basis.
Davis slashed .194/.260/.321 for the Astros in 181 trips to the plate. One thing he did do well was avoid strikeouts at an alarming rate. With young players, it’s sometimes more than problematic to just put the ball in play. Even during his struggles in Houston, making contact happened. The difference with the Mets in 2019 is that the contact is leading to hits. The hits are leading to an advanced role with the team now and possibly in the future.
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As a defensive player, Davis is best suited playing seven innings and not having the ball hit to him before one of his teammates replaces him. Through the early part of the season, he has been really bad at third base. We could soon see him play some left field, where the Astros gave him minimal opportunities. Though he does also have first base on his resume, Pete Alonso isn’t losing at-bats for anyone right now.
Going forward, Davis could have a really big role with the Mets. Jed Lowrie is only in Flushing through 2020 and the same goes for the forgotten Yoenis Cespedes. At either third base or left field, we could see Davis carve out a starting role by 2021.
When the Mets gave Jacob deGrom the overdue contract extension, they set themselves up to contend for several more seasons. It’s possible we see a dip at some point during his tenure with the team with a year or two of retooling, but for the most part, we should expect the Brodie Van Wagenen Era to include championship aspirations. The Wilpons hired him to bring them a parade. Davis’ early success could hint at a future where he plays an even greater role.
Davis’ future with the Mets includes a part-time role over the next two seasons. He still has plenty left to prove. However, when the veterans hit free agency, we should see him become a candidate to get 500+ at-bats. The key to him is success against right-handed pitchers. The big knock on him before the year began was how one-dimensional he could be at times. This hasn’t been a problem during his time in New York. Has he become a better-rounded hitter?
Using only the players they currently have under control, we can possibly expect the 2020 Mets to open the year with Jeff McNeil at third base and Davis in left field. Davis will need more repetitions beyond the infield dirt though, which is something I want to see soon.
Plenty of men have moved from third base to left field with success. The best example is Alex Gordon who managed to become one of baseball’s best fielding outfielders during his prime. The chances of Davis doing this are slim. Instead, expect him to look more like Ryan Braun with respectable fielding abilities after his third base days are through.
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Players like Davis are essential to a team’s success even long before they become everyday options. Among all of the moves Van Wagenen made during his first chance to build a team, Davis may have been the best one to help the team long-term.