JD Davis Proving Himself A Keeper for New York Mets

JD Davis
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 21: J.D. Davis #28 of the New York Mets celebrates his first career walk off single as teammate Michael Conforto #30 scores the winning run in the 10th inning against the Cleveland Indians at Citi Field on August 21, 2019 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets defeated the Cleveland Indians 4-3 in 10 innings. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

New York Mets‘ fans anxiously watched as JD Davis‘ tenth-inning at bat unfolded Wednesday night. The team had battled back to a tie their game against the Cleveland Indians at three as Davis stepped up to the plate with an opportunity to win. What followed was a display of raw human emotion.

JD Davis won his battle against Brad Hand, ripping a line drive to left field for the walk off base hit and bedlam erupted at Citi Field. Booming cheers poured out from the fans in the stands while Davis’s teammates bolted after him to celebrate-and rip his jersey off his body.

“Hey Mets fans, WE DID IT AGAIN WOOOO,” said Davis, overcome with his own emotions during a post game interview. “LET’S GO METS!”

The heroics of the night will be remembered, but it will overshadow the significance. The significance is not about a crucial game in a tight playoff race. Rather, it is that Davis looks like a solid piece for the Mets to use for the foreseeable future.

In a season where so many off season acquisitions have been called into question for the Mets, it looks like Davis has been the opposite. While Jed Lowrie has yet to take the field in 2019, Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz look like a failed trade, and Jeurys Familia has been up and down in his return to Queens, Davis has thrived.

Offensive Improvements

The Mets acquired Davis from the Houston Astros for three prospects in January. Davis was always felt to have talent, but he struggled to put that talent together in Houston.

A change of scenery appears to have done him well. His slash line is currently .312/.374/.522 in 108 games (334 plate appearances). By comparison, he played in 66 games from 2017-2018 with the Astros (181 plate appearances) with a below-average .194/.260/.321 slash line. That slash line has been .380/.439/.630 in the second half.

Davis has 15 home runs on the season, quadrupling his career total from five to 20. Even though, yes, 2019 has been his first opportunity at consistent at bats, his home runs per at bat have dropped from 36.2 to 22.3 in a stadium that is not conducive to power hitters.

Also, with more at bats come more RBI opportunities. As a result, JD Davis has 43 RBI this season, compared to the 12 he had in his entire career before 2019.

His walk rate is up from 7.7% (collectively in Houston) to 8.6%, an his strikeout rate is down from 27.1% to 20.4%, as well. Truly, he has transformed into a solid MLB hitter as a New York Met.

Competent Defense

JD Davis has willingly shuffled between third base and left field for the Mets this season. Advanced defensive metrics would indicate that he is a sub-par defender. He has a negative defensive runs saved at each position, and his range factor sits at 1.17 in left field and 2.16 at third base.

Metrics aside, Davis has still brought defensive value to the Mets. His ability to play multiple positions bodes well on a team that asks it’s players to be flexible and play out of position frequently.

Comparison to Other Acquisitions

As mentioned, the Mets have had issues with their offseason acquisitions, with Davis being the exception. Lowrie was expected to be the Mets’ version of what DJ LeMahieu has been for the New York Yankees; playing just about every day in any position. He is just now beginning a rehab assignment from a multitude of injuries.

Cano and Diaz’s regressions from 2018 in Seattle have been well documented. Familia was expected to come back and anchor the bullpen, but he has a 6.21 ERA and 33 walks in 42 innings pitched.

And yet, despite these failures, the Mets sit one-and-a-half games out of a Wild Card spot. They possess a glimmer of hope, even a sense a magic. JD Davis is not the team MVP, but he is one of the players providing the hope and fueling the magic.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images

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