As we head into the 2014 season, the biggest concern for the Mets is the amount of production coming from first base. Last season, the platoon of Ike Davis and Lucas Duda didn’t get it done but manager Terry Collins has shown confidence in Davis to become a consistent power threat. Davis, who hit 32 home runs in 2012, played 103 games in the majors last season and hit .205 with just 9 home runs and 101 strikeouts; a stat line like that eventually earned Ike a spot in Triple-A Las Vegas.
After having a horrid opening series vs San Diego last season, Davis was never able to regain confidence and his strikeouts were adding up quickly. He modified the height of his hands, the width of his legs, his front foot stride – anything that he could think of – all to no avail. After months of letting Ike try to figure it out, the Mets finally sent him to AAA in June. He would return to the majors later in the season and hit just 4 home runs after his promotion.
This offseason, one of the goals of the fans and front office alike was to bring in a big bat, presumably to replace Ike Davis. Our biggest problem last season was offense and with the plethora of young arms rising through the farm system, it was the main thing to be addressed this winter. However, when the news broke of Curtis Granderson signing with the Mets, many people realized Ike may be here to stay, at least for another year (or even just another Opening Day, depending on how the season unfolds).
Although many people were upset with the reluctance to bring in a first baseman as well, I think Collins and Sandy Alderson made the right move. There weren’t many options available to begin with and you don’t want to give up a potential 30+ home run guy for nothing. The signing of Granderson should help Ike immensely as it adds a more proven power threat and allows Davis to take some of the pressure off himself, as well as creating matchup problems with a lineup of Granderson-Wright-Davis.
Ike Davis has the potential to be one of the top power hitters in all of baseball and showed it with a 2nd half that was considered to be one of the most productive in the league in 2012. At 6’4″ 230, Ike has the size and actually plays his position rather well so it’s not like he needs to have David Ortiz-esque numbers to justify himself playing every day. Thus far in his career, his 162 game averages are: .242, 25 home runs, 30 doubles, 80 RBIs and 151 strikeouts. With the power swing that Ike has, his strikeouts are going to be high and his average low, but if he is able to keep his average north of .250 and strikeouts less than 150, as well as putting up 25 HR, 30 doubles and drives in 80, most of us would be happy with a steady improvement like that.
While the team has certainly improved from last season, most of the talk around the franchise has been in preparation for the 2015 season when Matt Harvey returns. This season is huge for Ike Davis because if he produces at the level he’s capable of, then we’ve got almost a complete roster and will be ready to make a playoff push come 2015 (hopefully 2014, too!). However, if Ike, who already has a home run in just 6 at-bats this spring, gets off to a start similar to last season, this could be the last we see of him in a Mets uniform.