2) NY Mets player who needs to be better in the second half: J.D. Davis
Even with a rebound from Escobar in the second half, the most glaring hole in the Mets offense remains Designated Hitter. And of the players the Mets have auditioned there, J.D. Davis stands the best chance of seizing the opportunity – and the most to lose.
Davis’ opportunity is one the Mets’ envisioned for him at the start of the year: being a silver bullet against left-handed pitching. In his first season with the Mets in 2019, Davis batted .312 with a .913 OPS against lefties. He had limited plate appearances the next two years due to the pandemic and injures, but the hope this season was that Davis could platoon at DH, starting primarily as a power bat against southpaws.
It’s an experiment that has somehow yielded the opposite effect. Not only has Davis struggled overall, but he’s fared worse against lefties, hitting just .212 with four extra-base hits in 85 at-bats during the first half. As a team, the Mets were below league-average in OPS against left-handers and more than 40 points lower than their collective OPS against right-handers over the same period.
Advanced analytics suggest Davis is a prime candidate to break out in a big way, as he ranks near the top of the league in expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) and exit velocity. And with other internal candidates such as Dom Smith struggling as well, there’s still a window of opportunity for Davis to claim regular at-bats.
But the clock to the trade deadline is ticking. And with below-average defense and not enough of a hitting track record otherwise, there’s not much else for the Mets to fall back on with Davis if he can’t get his bat going.