By all accounts, J.D. Davis is off to a bad start to his 2022 season for the New York Mets.
Through his first 15 games and 43 plate appearances, Davis is hitting .222/.364/.361, good for an OPS of .725 and OPS+ of 117. That’s more of a testament to how bad offense has been around the league, but he’s still been above average.
Still, the results haven’t lived up to his standard. However, according to Baseball Savant, he’s actually been one of the better hitters in baseball.
In fact, in a lot of expected statistics, Davis is best on the Mets.
Don’t get it twisted, he most certainly hasn’t been the best hitter on the Mets this season. Through the first month, it’s probably been Jeff McNeil — Savant just isn’t overly friendly to his style of play.
That said, Davis’ numbers at the very least suggest that through his first handful of plate appearances in 2022, he has been very unlucky.
On the Mets, there, are just four qualified hitters with an xwOBA over .350. Three of them are Luis Guillorme (.352), Francisco Lindor (.362) and Brandon Nimmo (.381). The other is Davis, who is heads and shoulders above everyone else at .432. These leaderboards change every day, but this is how everything stands through May 5.
In fact, Davis’ .432 xwOBA is one of the best in baseball, ranking at No. 14 in the majors.
In general, the names at the top of the leaderboards are who you’d expect, with Yordan Alvarez leading the way and Mike Trout right behind him. Aaron Judge, Luis Robert and Juan Soto all rank in the top-10, but they’re joined by some unexpected names like Rowdy Tellez, Joc Pederson and Ji-Man Choi. Still, they’ve all been raking to start the season, so it makes sense.
Davis isn’t far behind them though and is directly ahead of some really notable players like José Ramírez, Freddie Freeman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Tucker, Tim Anderson and Wander Franco. That’s just a couple of names, but really, there are only 13 qualified players in baseball who aren’t behind Davis.
Unlike most of them though, Davis hasn’t seen the results. In fact, just two players in the top-30 for xwOBA (everyone at .400 or above) have seen more of a negative difference from their wOBA to their xwOBA, and that’s Robert and Tucker.
For Davis, he has a minus-.096 difference between his wOBA of .336 and xwOBA of .432. For Tucker, he has a minus-.097 difference between his wOBA of .328 and xwOBA of .425. For Robert, he has a minus-.144 difference between his wOBA of .322 and xwOBA of .466.
Robert is obviously in a different class, he’s one of the best players in baseball after all. Tucker isn’t there yet, but he’s making a bid to join him.
Still, it shows how unlucky Davis has been. He’s hitting the ball hard, and if you watch the games, it shows. He’s just been hitting the ball right at people most of the time.
His batting average is .222, but his xBA is .306. His slugging percentage is .361, but his xSLG is .587. His barrels per plate appearance percentage of 9.3% is the best on the team, as is his hard-hit percentage of 65.2% and average exit velocity of 92.6 mph.
He obviously has some things to work on. He struggles against high heat sometimes and is currently striking out more than an ideal amount, but he’s also walking a ton and just murdering the ball.
The point of this article is simple: Be patient with Davis here. He’s a better hitter than what his numbers say right now, and his peripherals prove it. Even as I’m writing this, he just smoked a double down the line as part of one of the most incredible comebacks in baseball history. It was the third hardest-hit ball for the Mets that game, only behind the Marte and Lindor home runs. Oh, and he did it against a fastball.
Give it time, and more consistent results will come.