One of the talking points our site has emphasized this season is that J.D. Davis is a hardball hitter waiting to explode for the New York Mets. These takes were made when Davis was mired in an early season slump that saw his batting average hover around .200, as he, Dom Smith, and Robinson Cano were splitting the designated hitter at-bats.
Davis has become the Mets’ main piece off their bench after Dom Smith was sent down on May 31, Guillorme forcing his way into the everyday lineup with his defense and contact hitting, so it is kind of important to see Davis’ metrics turn into real results. So let's see how Davis has performed since our last check in on him.
Since our last checkup on J.D. Davis a month ago, he is seeing his luck beginning to translate into hits for the Mets, but extra-base hits remain a premium.
Entering Monday’s action, J.D. Davis has a hard hit rate (percentage of batted balls with an exit velocity of 95 miles per hour or more) of 6--- percent. Among the more than 300 players with more than 100 plate appearances, that’s the highest rate in the majors.
But his performance the last couple of nights against the Angels in Anaheim yielded encouraging results. He had two hits on Saturday with three hard hit balls, and then --- more hits on Sunday. One of those hits was a hard home run off Patrick Sandoval of the Angels with an exit velocity of 106.7 miles per hour . It was not only his first home run in 107 plate appearances since April 24, but it was also the first home run that Sandoval has yielded all season in 225 batters faced. That’s an encouraging sign for him.
Entering play on Sunday, he was in the top 10 percent of hitters in wxOBA, expected batting average and expected on base percentage, and had an average exit velocity of 93.8 miles per hour, which was in the top two percent of the league, so he is hitting the ball hard, which is the good thing for this team.
Davis has one of the hardest swings in baseball, but his chasing of pitches must stop for the Mets to see success.
Remember how Davis was the pleasant surprise of all the newcomers in 2019, and batted .307 in 410 at-bats? A lot of that had to do with his ability to decrease his strikeout rate from earlier in his career. In 2017 and 2018 with the Astros, his struck out in 27.7 percent of his plate appearances. In 2019 with the Mets, it was just 21.4 percent.
So far this season, it is 27.9 percent, a number that is higher than league average. Much of his strikeout pitches are on low and away pitches. Also, he has 25 strikeouts in his last 21 games in this span, which would be on pace for 193 strikeouts in a full season, and that’s a number like that that must change. His last two at-bats in Sunday’s game were swinging strikeouts.
His whiff rate (percentage of pitches in which a batter swings and misses at) was 35.5 percent entering Sunday, which was the 16th highest among the more than 300 players with 100 plate appearances.
All Davis needs to do to is to lay off on more pitches and he will see his entire game revert to his 2019 form where he was a high impact player off the bench. And it would behoove Mets fans to be patient as he discovers what is keeping his performance at bay.