How Good Is Ike Davis, And Is He Really A Core Player?

I got an interesting email from one of our readers, Des, yesterday. It contained  a small analysis she did in which she compares Ike Davis to Daniel Murphy. First let me share what she wrote me, and then I have some analysis of my own along with my conclusions.

Earlier in July I did an analysis and concluded that Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy have had similar batting success in the majors. Ike has more homers and Daniel has more speed and more triples (Ike has none). Today I took a look at Ike’s splits over the months of the 2010 season. It isn’t as pretty as the Mets PR message. I also present Murphy’s figures for comparison.

Ike’s monthly splits for BA, OBP, SLG, OPS:

  • Apr – .324 – .415 – .500 – .915
  • May – .235 – .348 – .418 – .766
  • Jun – .264 – .291 – .425 – .715
  • Jul – .221 – .288 – .474 – .762

Daniel Murphy’s career numbers for the same measures:

  • 2008 – .313 – .397 – .473 – .871
  • 2009 – .266 – .313 – .427 – .741

As you can see, we have two pretty good offensive first basemen. Here are a few of my conclusions.

  • Murphy’s BA is superior. It always will because of issues I raise in the last paragraph.
  • Murphy had a better rookie year than sophomore year.
  • Ike started his career with a batting flurry.
  • Ike’s OBP has declined each succeeding month.

In the most recent month, while Ike’s BA and OBP declined, his SLG and OPS have risen. Is he swinging from his heels to boost his power at the cost of base hits? Is his relatively long swing and his swing’s hitch costing him base hits?

More evidence is needed for a longer term outlook but it’s unlikely he’ll ever be a high percentage batter.

Nice job by Des…

I decided to look at it from another angle and that is to compare Ike Davis to the rest of the first baseman in the league. The results were somewhat shocking.

Among the 14 NL starting first basemen, Ike Davis ranks:

  • 11th in RBI
  • 12th in Extra-Base Hits
  • 12th in Batting Average
  • 10th in Slugging Percentage
  • 14th in On-Base Percentage (Last Place)
  • 13th in On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS) 
  • 13th in Runs Created
  • 14th in Fielding Percentage
  • 13th in Zone Rating

Considering all the hype, hoopla and buzz, Ike Davis gets, he doesn’t really measure up that well when compared to most of his piers in offensive and defensive production.

As a matter of fact, Ike Davis, who has become a demigod to most Mets fans, ranks exactly where Daniel Murphy ranked in 2009 in many of these same categories, which strengthens the argument Des made.

The only statistic in which Ike Davis finished in the top five, was in strikeouts. He ranked #5 with 92, although he had far less at-bats than the other four in front of him. For example, big-time whiffer Ryan Howard has 107 strikeouts, fifteen more than Ike, but he also has 65 more at-bats.

So what does all of this mean?

For one, it means that Ike Davis has about as much value as Daniel Murphy. You wouldn’t know it from the fan reaction, and that’s because homeruns are more memorable and ring truer with fans than doubles and triples.

It also means, that if the Mets DID swap Ike Davis in a Cliff Lee deal or Roy Oswalt deal, he wouldn’t have been as difficult to replace as one would think. As a matter of fact, almost any other first baseman in the game would have provided as much offensive impact as Ike Davis has, with the odds being good it would probably be an even larger impact.

So what’s my final conclusion?

Basically, I’m as drunk on Mets Koolaid as the rest of my fellow fans it seems. I still wouldn’t have traded Ike in those deals if that’s what it took to get it done, but only because they were either a rental or a salary dump.

Ike may end up being mediocre at best, and nothing more than a lower-tier first baseman when all is said and done, but I like his heart and grit and his incalculable ability to come through in the clutch. In my mind, Ike is a keeper.

As for Daniel Murphy, I conclude that he shouldn’t be pushed off to the side. He’s out for the season now, but next spring I hope he makes the team and gives us a valuable corner infielder on the bench.

However, if the right deal was to come along (IE: Adrian Gonzalez or Zach Grienke), I wouldn’t hesitate to trade either of them. Niether of them rise to the level of core players, and nor should they be considered untouchable. If we get a chance to trade one of them for a big impact player this offseason, then by all means do it.

About Joe D 8025 Articles
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73, '00 and '15, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.