New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis burst onto the scene in 2010, smacking 19 homers, driving in 71 runs, and finishing 7th in the NL Rookie of the Year vote behind stalwarts like Buster Posey and Starlin Castro.
He quickly became a favorite of the Flushing faithful and was expected to have a breakout 2011 season. It certainly looked as though Ike was breaking out early that spring, as he had a .925 OPS in his first 36 games. Ike’s big break in 2011, however, came from a collision with David Wright, which led to a severely injured ankle and cut the young slugger’s season short.
After spending the rest of the season rehabbing, Ike was met with yet another obstacle: a diagnosis of Valley Fever, a fungal infection, in the spring of 2012. The ailment sapped his strength and he struggled through the first half of the season- he had a slash line of .158/.234/.273 after the first week of June- before recovering in time to finish with tallies of 32 dingers and 90 runs batted in.
His late season surge appeared to portend a big 2013 season, but Ike came out flat again this spring, batting .165 in April and .160 in May. His struggles continued into June, and Davis was sent down to the Pacific Coast League and the Las Vegas 51s.
In Vegas, Ike hit .293 with 7 HR in 75 AB, and was called back up to the Show on July 5th.
Since the return he has been a different player.
While he hasn’t been slugging (he has just one home run in 80 post-demotion at bats) Ike has been getting on base at a solid rate. He’s hit .300 with 25 walks since his return from the exile of the PCL, but has been even better recently.
Since the All Star Break, Davis has been in the zone like few other players, batting .357 and getting on base in more than half (53.8% of the time to be exact) of his plate appearances. Those stats are boosted by an outrageous stretch lately–with three walks and a single in five plate appearances today, Ike elevated his OBP in the month of August to a luxurious .690, the second highest in baseball (trumped only by Jonathan Herrera’s .692).
So who is Ike Davis?
It’s foolish to expect Ike to be the walk machine he has been of late all the time. On the other hand, it seems unlikely, at least based on his recent performance, that Davis will sink to the depths he occupied early this season. We believe that, when Ike starts slugging, true optimism can rise and cast off the shackles of our current state of cautious optimism.