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Believe It Or Not: Ike Davis

8/14/2013
Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports

Should the Mets believe in the long-term prospects of Ike Davis?

For the next three days, we’re going to write about Mets who have performed well recently, taking a closer look at their strengths and weaknesses, then get a scout’s perspective on a longer-term outlook for that player. Yesterday, we wrote about Juan Lagares Today’s piece focuses on Ike Davis.

Believe It ...

Davis’ overall body of work shows promise, though most of that came in the earliest stages of his career. In each of the last two spring trainings, Davis has impressed and flashes of that show up from time to time, like last season, when he clubbed 20 homers in 251 at-bats after the All-Star Break, and since his recall from Las Vegas, in which he has a .478 on-base percentage and a .920 OPS.

Ike Davis in 2013

The biggest positive for Davis since his recall has been the drop in both his chase rate (how often he swings at pitches thrown out of the strike zone) and his miss rate (how often he misses on his swings).

We’ve noted those in the chart on the right.

Davis has also shown himself to be a competent, if not slightly above average defender at first base, based on advanced defensive metrics, though he’s yet to be as good as his rookie season, when he had 10 Defensive Runs Saved.

... Or Not

Davis has had not one but two bad multi-month stretches, one in each of the last two seasons. Those have been highlighted by wild swings and misses, sometimes on pitches that look like they’re going to hit him.

This recent run of success has been an odd one. His only homer during this stretch came against the Nationals in a game the Mets were winning 8-0 at the time. He does have nine doubles, but a bunch of those have been bloops rather than the potential long balls that fans grew used to seeing.

We utilize a video-review service that rates every batted ball as being either “hard-hit,” “medium-hit,” or “soft-hit” (several major league teams use either this service or others). Davis’ rate of balls hit that were classified as “hard-hit” prior to his demotion was 14.9 percent.

With an increase in performance since his return, you’d expect that number to go up a little bit, but it’s actually about the same, 14.5 percent. His season rate is 14.8 percent -- the same as New York Yankees reserve infielder Jayson Nix.

Scout’s Take

The scout we spoke to acknowledged not having seen Davis much during this hot streak, but he wasn’t sold on what he did see.

“Ike needs to reinvent himself as a hitter. I know he’s not chasing as much lately. But my concern for him is that every pitch, whether he’s taking it or at the point of contact, he never looks balanced. He can hit the ball on the screws and still look like he’s early or late. I would not bet on him lasting on that. If he can keep doing what he’s doing and have a 10-year career, God bless him.”

What do you think of Ike Davis? Share your thoughts in the comments.