Opening Day start for J.D. Davis hints at how the Mets will use him

New York Mets v Miami Marlins
New York Mets v Miami Marlins / Mark Brown/GettyImages

J.D. Davis will be starting on Opening Day for the New York Mets. What? He’s still here?

Yes, Davis managed to survive the offseason trade rumors. Despite not having an everyday position with the team, he’s getting the nod on Opening Day.

The reason: Davis knows how to hit against Washington Nationals starter Patrick Corbin.

The Mets are playing the percentage with J.D. Davis on Opening Day

This is precisely what the Mets should be doing with Davis, possibly all year long. When he has a history of playing well against a particular pitcher, he needs to start games. His bat is an asset. Particularly against left-handed pitchers, this Opening Day start for him could be a preview of what Buck Showalter has planned all year long.

To his credit, Davis is actually not coming off of a bad year. It was a weird year, though. Injuries got in the way. Toward the end of the year, the Mets stopped using him almost entirely.

Davis has always been a man without a true position. The Mets have tried him out mostly at third base and in left field with mixed results at both spots. The mix: bad and ugly with a sprinkle of average moments.

One area Mets fans can feel concerned about regarding Davis it’s his loss of power. After slugging .527 in 2019 with 22 home runs in 453 plate appearances, he has regressed greatly over the last two years. Davis slugged .389 in 2020 and only increased it to .436 last year. He has hit only 11 home runs in the past two seasons in 440 plate appearances—only 13 less than the 22 he had in his lone full season. Is it a case of Davis losing pop or were the 2019 baseballs juiced so much that we were fooled into thinking he’s a different type of hitter?

Davis will need to work hard to consistently stay in the Mets’ lineup rotation. Competing against Robinson Cano and Dominic Smith for playing time, the Mets are hinting early on that they won’t be shy about using him in the right situations. He was still able to hit .285/.384/.436 last year even with all of the starting and stopping due to injuries and getting moved to the bench. About to enter his fourth year with the Mets, he appears back to square one. However, he should get his chances to swing away once again.

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