The New York Mets have one of the more frustrating hitters in baseball in J.D. Davis. He’s been hitting the ball hard, but none of his traditional stats indicate that. He takes his walks and doesn’t strike out (nine walks, 13 strikeouts so far) which is why his OPS+ is good at 120, but the power just hasn’t been there.
The Mets have the most unlucky hitter in baseball so far in J.D. Davis.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Davis leads all qualified hitters in hard hit rate at 70%. He’s also fifth in barrel rate at 19.2%, only trailing Rowdy Tellez, Joc Pederson, Patrick Wisdom, and Christian Yelich. That’s really good company, but it gets better.
Davis is also second in MLB in xwOBA, which measures the quality of contact hitters make. He’s at .489, just 11 ticks behind Mike Trout at #1 (.500 xwOBA) and he’s got a substantial lead over Aaron Judge in third place (.458). Among qualifiers, Davis has the largest difference between his wOBA (.339) and his xwOBA, with a difference of -0.150.
J.D. has negative differences across the board. His batting average is .238, but his expected batting average is .351, good for a difference of -0.113. His slugging percentage is .357, but his expected slugging is .677. That’s a difference of -0.320, by far the largest in the majors.
Obviously, as everyone is talking about, the deadened balls have a factor in this as well. On Sunday, in the first game of the doubleheader at Philly, Davis hit a ball with a 106.6 exit velocity and a 23 degree launch angle. This year, that’s a 377-foot flyout. A tweet stated that a ball hit at that exit velocity with that launch angle was easily a homer in 2019, flying an estimated 428 feet. That year, the balls were flying too much, but a 50-foot swing in distance is absurd.
The point of all this is that J.D. Davis is tearing the cover off the ball. When you’re sandwiched between Mike Trout and Aaron Judge on a leaderboard, you’re doing something right. It’s only a matter of time before more of these sharply-hit balls start dropping in for hits or carrying over the fence as it gets warmer. When that happens, expect him to firmly take the DH spot in the lineup.