October 7, 2013

The Mets Mess At First Base: Davis Or Duda?

Photo Courtesy of @Lets86It
The New York Mets have a variety of decisions to make this winter.  Positions in question include the outfield, shortstop, first base and the starting rotation.  Should they add talent from outside the organization, or are there in-house options at Sandy Alderson's disposal.  Undoubtedly there is no more complicated decision to be made than what to do at first base.

For the past three seasons, the Mets' first baseman of the future was destined to be Arizona State University product, Ike Davis.  How could he not be?  Davis' strong offensive production was complimented by outstanding..and often acrobatic defensive abilities in his rookie campaign.  His sophomore season marred by injury, he returned to the lineup in 2012 to post a thirty home run season in spite of immense struggles to start the year. Fast forward to 2013 and it was more of the same..except Davis never broke out of his slump, posting single digit home runs and a .205 batting average.

Behind him stands a first base prospect forgotten.  Lucas Duda was the man without a position.  Blocked by Davis, Duda found himself beached in the outfield, lacking both the speed and the confidence to play defense efficiently. Despite significant power potential, he wouldn't find himself a regular at first base (his natural position) until midway through the 2013 season when nearly all hope was lost for Davis.  They would exchange the position on an injury by injury basis until late August when Duda got his opportunity to shine.

Alright..shine might be a strong word, but Duda did look increasingly more confident having returned to his natural position.  That combined with the struggles of Ike Davis and one is left to wonder, where should the Mets go from here?  Below is a look at each players offensive production per 162 games played:

Statistics Courtesy of Baseball Reference

Sure, Davis has a thirty home run season, but he has also batted just north of the mendoza line since 2011.  Duda's potential isn't really known, as he remained the minors in lieu of Davis for so long, but he does appear to be more consistent.  Neither seems like the answer long term, each has their upside, and both remain relatively cheap...but who should get the gig going forward?  As you can see above, while Davis has slightly better career production per 162 games played, the difference is minimal and recent history would say that Davis' best days may already be behind him.

When all is said and done, I expect the nod to go to Davis once again (unless he is traded), despite the fact that Duda has a better approach at the plate.  The Mets are invested in Davis and his power potential.  They have also seemed hesitant to admit their mistake in each of the following two seasons when they waited forever to send Davis down.  With all the chances hes been afforded already, I'd just be surprised if he didn't get another.

If it were my decision, I would probably look to move Ike Davis if he still has some sort of value on the trade market.  Duda appears capable at first base until a better option presents itself, and I'd prefer his relative consistency versus the unknown that has become Ike Davis.  What are your thoughts?  Would you stick with Davis or do you think its time to move on to Duda, if the answer has to come from within the organization?

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  1. I really don't see how you give up on a player who hit 30 HR and 90 RBI at the major league level. And who is an above-average defensive player.

    I'm very curious to know if there have been players who have done that early in their career and then never panned out--assuming they were given the chance to play and didn't suffer any injuries.

    I don't know, but my gut says it's probably rare that a player doing what Davis did never amounted to anything.

  2. My gut says Ike Davis sucks. He can blink elsewhere. He is beyond inconsistent. I cant take another .160 half from him. Flash in the pan.