By the end of last season, I was pretty excited about Ike Davis. He got off to a horrible start in 2012, but seemed to finish strong with 32 dingers. His average still sucked, but it seemed like things were finally starting to click for him. Now it’s a month into the season and he can’t get above the Mendoza line.
Over in left field, Lucas Duda is getting on base and hitting with some serious power. He’s moving up in the order and Davis is moving down.
Assuming Sandy Alderson fulfills his promise and nabs a decent outfielder before the deadline and during the offseason, it’s a safe bet that the front office is going to have to make a decision as to which player is the first baseman of the future.
I think it’s reasonable to say that Ike isn’t going to finish the season with a sub-200 batting average. On the other hand, Duda’s going to come down to Earth at some point. These are two very streaky hitters we’re talking about here, and Ike is having his slump in April for the second season in a row.
But who’s the better player? Who’s the best fit at first if we get a legit outfield bat?
Small sample sizes tend to lead to knee-jerk reactions, and Lucas and Ike haven’t had equal seasons in terms of at-bats and playing time. I went over to Baseball Reference and grouped both Davis and Duda’s plate appearances in batches of 500, spaced out over intervals of 100. In other words, I looked at the stats from plate appearances 1-500, 101-600, 201-700, and down the line for each players career to date. I took four key stats – K%, BB%, HR% and BABIP (batting average on balls in play) – and graphed them to see if there were any trends.
Lets look at Ike’s chart:
The most alarming thing is that Ike’s BABIP has been plummeting. He’s making weak contact and popping up more and more each month. Basically, he’s becoming Adam Dunn without the walks. If his BABIP keeps trending down then we’re going to be seeing a lot of .220 seasons in the future. Lots of home runs are nice, but out of all the players who hit 30 or more homers in 2012, Ike had the second-worst OPS behind Josh Reddick.
Looking over at Duda’s chart, we see that he’s a little more consistent:
His strikeouts and walks are going up, and home run power has remained pretty consistent since he was called up in 2010. For all the talk about his explosive power potential, it doesn’t seem like he’ll ever hit more than 20-25 in a season.
All of these revelations shine a light on the fact that the Mets are stuck between a rock and a hard place at first base. You don’t even need charts or stats to see the Ike is lost at the plate. Every time he faces the pitcher he blinks his eyes like he’s been driving cross-country for thirty-six hours and the Red Bull is wearing off. If I had to choose one, I’d probably pick Duda just to be able to put someone with some range out in left field. At least Duda has a chance to get on base at a respectable pace.
In the meantime, Sandy should add “first base” to his shopping list.
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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Eli Brazell. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 16,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.