Ike Davis’ Struggles Extend Beyond the Ks

An article by posted on May 3, 2013

Ike DavisI could dedicate an entire post to Ike Davis‘ miserable .169 batting average, or maybe his .315 slugging percentage. The fact that he has hit just four homers and driven in eight runs through 25 games is alarming too, but those are things we’re all made well aware of each day. He’s recorded 15 hits, and we’ve now entered the month of May.

Even the 195-strikeout pace Davis is on wouldn’t be as excruciating if the 26-year-old would demonstrate a hint of humility after getting punched out time after time.

But that’s the issue. He hasn’t. Through his four MLB campaigns, Davis seems to believe he’s entitled to borderline calls at the plate, which—for better or worse—are not given to players in their early 20s all that often. Although there is a way to eradicate that unwritten rule: to get on the umpiring crew’s good side. MLB Etiquette 101.

Either Ike isn’t aware of that, or believes he can complain his way to the benefit of the doubt. Four seasons, 364 games, and nearly 1,500 plate appearances into his Major League career, and Davis still can’t grasp the very simple concept of taking his lumps and sitting down quietly. This, unfortunately, is what deserves an entire post.

Davis has been prone to strikeouts over his career—that cat was let out the bag years ago. But it’s never been more apparent than in 2013. His strikeout percentage is up around 30 percent (chart via Fangraphs), which is more than five percent higher than in any prior season.

Through April 28, eight of Of Davis’ 26 Ks in 2013 have been punchouts. That equates to 31 percent of his strikeouts coming with the bat on his shoulder, which is a five percent increase from 2012 and seven percent higher than the league average.

I broke down the tape of those eight backwards-Ks, and found that Ike did his very best to show up the home plate ump on six of the eight strike-three calls. That comes out to a 75 percent Ike-Davis-Being-Immature rating—yeah, you can call me a sabermagician.

Note: One GIF from 4/10 vs. PHI was lost in the heat of battle :(. Davis has also struck out looking twice since 4/28 that I haven’t been able to retrieve video from. With or without the missing clips, the point still stands. Ike won’t be getting the close ones any time soon.

Included are strikezone plots for corresponding at-bats from Brooks Baseball.

Example 1: April 4, Inning 1

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Example 2: April 4, Inning 8

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Example 3: April 7, Inning 8

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Example 4: April 16, Inning 1

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Example 5: April 20, Inning 2

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I hate to exert this much energy ranting against Ike, because I’ve been on his side of the Keep-Davis-or-Keep-Duda argument all along. His second-half numbers from 2012 are downright scary, and I didn’t think it was outrageous to expect the ball to continue rolling in that direction in 2013. Perhaps I was wrong.

The point here is that sometimes Davis has a legit gripe with the home plate ump. But acting out like a spoiled child leaving the toy store empty handed isn’t exactly the way to present an argument to an umpire (a grown man).

It’s an issue that Davis was approached about as early as 2010 as a rookie. Nearly three years later, it’s still an issue.

Ike’s struggles during his ABs are one issue—and don’t be mistaken, they’re plentiful—but its the lack of judgement after them that are especially concerning as he transitions from a precocious neophyte to a whiny veteran.

Follow me on Twitter at @JSDorn6.

Stats and graphics obtained from Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, and Brooks Baseball.

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