By Jason Radowitz:
In the beginning of the season, everyone in the Mets organization continued to pronounce Ike Davis as their future star player. At the time, it was believable after putting together a very fine 2011 season before injuring his ankle that kept him out the rest of the season.
Then came 2012. Davis couldn’t hit anything. He struck out about a third of his at-bats, which gave the Mets a very hard time in figuring out what they wanted to do with Ike. Should they send him to the minors? Will he finally find his stroke again?
On May 24th, Davis’ average dipped to an alarming .159, and had only one hit in his last 30 plate appearances. Manager Terry Collins had speculated that maybe Davis would be sent down to Buffalo to find his swing again. It never happened though. Davis stayed up with the Mets, and somehow, on June 9th, Davis began his return to life. No, he didn’t do anything special on June 9th, getting one hit and two walks, but from that point, his average never looked back. In the end of June, Davis had a batting average of .264 in June, which was quite astonishing after his horrible beginning to the season.
Teammates made Davis feel welcome, even during is awful stretch. Everyone knew what Davis was capable of, however, no one knew how to get Davis back to his 2011 days. Except for Dave Hudgens and Terry Collins. While Davis continued to slump, he wasn’t seeing the ball well at all. Swinging at garbage in the dirt, away from him, inside; any pitch not in strike zone, Davis would swing at. That’s when Davis got the OK to swing first pitch, even with Dave Hudgens coaching his patient approach at the plate. They were hoping for more first pitch fastballs that Davis could turn on. He wouldn’t get the fastball or a strike all the time, but when he did, he would be able to make contact with it. The first thing Collins wanted out of Davis was to put the ball in play. After that, they could worry about situational hitting and where to place the ball.
It’s very hard for any power hitting lefty to place a ball in gaps because of the massive shifts teams play against them. When Davis is up, three infielders play in between the first and second base. Obviously, Davis who is a pull hitter and out in front of many pitches, will usually find a glove in the infield. Other lefty hitters are able to sneak balls through holes with the short-stop playing in their normal position. Still that was no excuse for his slump, as he struck out most of the time anyway.
Now that Davis has finally produced, the Mets aren’t producing as they fell to five games below .500 for the first time this season last night. In the game, Davis hit three solo homeruns, and a single to right field on a 4-4 day at the plate. While you would think his homeruns would boost the Mets, those homeruns were the only runs scored for the them all game.
Davis is now batting .216 on the year, but has hit 20 homeruns and has 60 runs batted in on the year. It’s simply amazing how he has been able to put these numbers up even with his first half struggles. With a possible demotion in his head, he was able to keep his head up and was finally able to find his swing again.
Right fielder Lucas Duda, on the other hand, struggled as well, and was sent down to the minors. Davis’ fielding was most likely the reason why he was kept up. He is an above average first baseman, and a big target for the infielders to fire the ball to. Back-up first baseman Justin Turner isn’t as big, tall, or as efficient as Davis is at first base.
Now Davis doesn’t have to worry about being sent down. He leads the team in homeruns and is second, behind Wright, in runs batted in. However, the flaming Davis isn’t satisfied with his numbers.
“It’s still not where I want to be, but it’s definitely getting better,” Davis said about his .216 average.
Two months ago, many were debating if Ike would ever pass the .200 mark in average. Davis has now surprised everyone climbing every batting category in a rapid pace. Last night, he became the ninth player in Mets history to hit three homeruns in one game. With two center-field bullets and a curveball he absolutely turned on, Ike Davis has seemed to of found his groove. Now the rest of the Mets must find that groove to remain in playoff contention.