Thursday, February 9, 2012

2012 Ike Davis Player Profile – Is He The Next Joey Votto?

When Ike Davis rolled his ankle in Colorado, nothing was made of it.

The Mets thought he was day-to-day. Davis himself thought he would not miss much time. Then a day became a week, a week became a month, and eventually, Davis was lost for the entire season.

It was a terrible injury for the franchise because in his rookie season in 2010 and the beginning of 2011, Davis had shown a lot of promise.

With 19 home runs, 73 runs batted in and an ISO of .176, his future at the plate was looking very bright. Add to that his defensive abilities, his 10.1 UZR was good for the second best rating for first basemen in all of baseball, and we can safely say the Mets were happy with their 3.5 WAR first baseman.

The best part was, Davis had shown marked improvement in the second half of 2010.

After the all-star break, Ike trimmed his strike outs while increasing his walks, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He even saved his best for last in September, with a slash line of .330/.427/.524, a BB:SO ratio of 19:21.

It was like a cliffhanger at the end of a great book, he left every Mets fan on the edge of their seat, wanting more.

Despite ending the season on such a high note, 2011 did not bring lofty expectations. Some improvements were expected, but nothing extraordinary. When April arrived however, he threw those low expectations out the window.

At the end of April, Davis was hitting .337 with a .600 slugging percentage. He had five home runs with 20 RBIs, and managed to score 16 runs despite the likes of Jason Bay, Ronnie Paulino and Jason Pridie hitting behind him.

The average was inflated by an unsustainable .384 BABIP, but projecting that April over the course of a full season, he would end up around 96 runs, 30 homers, 120 runs batted in, and a .278 batting average (projecting his BABIP dropping to his career average of .325).

I looked for a player to compare him to, and found a recently crowned MVP who had a very similar history.

Ike Davis: A+Joey Votto: A+Ike Davis: AAJoey Votto: AA

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The comparisons are lofty, but the statistics do not lie. I see a lot of Joey Votto in Ike Davis.

Look at how similar their minor league profiles are, even though their paths to the majors were drastically different.

The Mets drafted Davis 18th overall in the 2008 draft after three years at Arizona State. Joey Votto on the other hand was drafted in the second round in the 2002 draft out of high school.

Before reaching the majors, Ike only accumulated 769 at-bats in the minor leagues. Votto on the other hand, had 1846 at-bats before he reached AA! Despite that, both had their age 22 seasons in AA, and the results could not be much closer.

While Davis showed more power at both levels with an ISO of .246 and .198 in AA and A+ versus Votto’s .228 and .182, Votto had the better average and OBP at the higher level, so their production was very close.

Looking forward to their major league careers, look how similar the stat lines are year to year and how each player grew from year one to year two.

Davis: Year One (2010)Votto: Year One (2008)Davis: Year Two (2011)Votto: Year Two (2009)
BA.264.297.302 (+.38).322 (+.25)
OBP.351.368.383 (+.32).441 (+.73)
SLG %.440.506.543 (+.103).567 (+.61)

* Projections based on Davis’ start to the 2011 season. He had 149 at-bats, so I kept his percentages the same and multiplied the rest by four to get to 600 at-bats

These numbers show Votto to be the better player, and by most margins he is. But look at the growth each player had from year one to year two. They each had tremendous bumps in average, OBP, SLG, all while trimming their strike outs and increasing their walks.

From the Mets perspective, you can get even more excited when comparing the stadiums in which each player played. The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati was the eighth best ballpark for hitters in 2011, while Citi Field was 24th. It does not make up for the entire discrepancy, but it certainly helps Votto’s statistics.

We also cannot forget just how good of a start Ike got off to.

April of 2011 was Davis’ best month as a professional. Had he stayed healthy, he was projected to outperform Votto’s year two numbers, and thrust himself into the MVP race a year sooner than the aforementioned Votto.

Unfortunately, we must end where we began because Ike never was able to return to the field. There are many questions that remain surrounding his ankle and foot, and they are some of the most important questions facing the Mets heading into the 2012 season.

The good news is that all reports this offseason regarding the ankle, from the Mets and Ike himself, have been positive. According to a Newsday article, Davis can pull a 200 pound sled weight with his ankle, something I definitely cannot do and I've never had ankle problems. However, until he has to play on it every day and endure the rigors that come along with a 162 game season, these comparisons to Joey Votto are fruitless.

With Pujols and Fielder in the American League, the Mets have a perennial all-star on their hands. All they have to do is keep Ike on his feet, because as we saw last season, the sky is the limit.

For all of your @Mets updates, follow Zach on twitter @MetsVibe!

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