“Another endorsement from the manager, another disappointing day for Ike Davis. The first baseman knows the deal, and whatever management may say, Davis knows he has to hit to stay with the team.”
The above description of a struggling Davis wasn’t written yesterday, last week or last month. Newsday’s Steven Marcus wrote that lede for an article on the Mets’ first baseman June 4, 2012 – nearly a full year ago. And yet here we are on May 20, 2013 and it easily fits the current Mets narrative.
The song remains the same: Davis isn’t hitting for average, isn’t hitting for power, is striking out too much, is having weak at-bats and is leaving many observers wondering if he’ll eventually be sent to the minors to fix whatever ails his formerly dangerous swing. Heading into Monday's Subway Series starter, Davis is batting .158 with a .246 on-base percentage and .496 on-base plus slugging percentage.
There are a few stumbling blocks, of course, to that demotion actually occurring. One is that the Mets don’t have an ample replacement for Davis the way they did when it was Davis getting the minor-league call to replace Mike Jacobs in 2010.
Triple-A first baseman Josh Satin is posting a strong batting line in the hitting-friendly Pacific Coast League. Satin is batting .291 with seven home runs. But the 28-year-old Satin is far from a prospect, and more of an organizational player. In 26 at-bats at the MLB level he has five hits, just one for extra bases, a double.
Then there’s the fact that Davis isn’t alone in his futility. One of the Braves’ biggest offseason acquisitions, B.J. Upton, has just a .496 OPS. Powerful Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero only has a .546 OPS. Victor Martinez, counted on to be the third member of Detroit’s Big Three power hitters, has a .577 OPS. Fans are certainly upset with their numbers, but (mostly) no one is calling for their release or demotion.
But the biggest factor keeping Davis in the majors is the knowledge that he has rebounded before. And not years ago. Mere months ago.
Davis was hitting .163 with a .221 OBP and .524 OPS on May 20, 2012, 39 games into his season. There were many voices calling for a demotion then, too. And that was with the Mets actually attempting to play competitive baseball.
But the Mets stuck with their slumping slugger and he rewarded their uber-patience. Davis hit 27 home runs, drove in 75 runners and posted an .855 OPS from May 21-Oct. 3, displaying the type of talent that got him that call-up to replace Jacobs in the first place.
There’s no guarantee Davis will repeat that performance. But in lieu of the team contending, in lieu of a sufficient replacement and knowing what Davis’ past history has been turning around slumps – doesn’t Davis deserve a little more time in Flushing?