The New York Mets have a core of fans who are extremely dedicated and loyal to the team despite their often overwhelming disappointments. The club has an unmistakable identity as a perennial underdog and a penchant for making the worst case scenario into a reality. The New York Mets organization may have a reputation as a losing one, but the moments that have defined the 50 year history of the club are amongst the most iconic in baseball history. For every Nolan Ryan the Mets have shipped off for Jim Fergosi, there’s the ground ball that gets through Buckner’s legs. There’s the stunning nature of disappointment as we recount Carlos Beltran’s strikeout in 2006 (No, it’s not his fault the Mets lost the game), but the foil of the strikeout can be a Grand Slam Single to push the Mets back to Atlanta. To say that the franchise has been a roller coaster of peaks and valleys since they first took the field in 1962 would be using the ultimate cliche.
Ike Davis, anecdotally speaking, was among the first players that I had the pleasure of following from the day he was drafted in 2008 through his major league debut in 2010. Davis was drafted when I became aware of how useful the internet could be in learning about the game and organization more than what was touted on television broadcasts. Reading the box scores from his Brooklyn Cyclones debut through the incredible numbers he posted in Buffalo before his big league debut in 2010 was an excitement that I hadn’t felt as a fan. It was a connection to a player that many had possessed, but he’ll forever be the first I thoroughly followed.
Earlier today, ESPN reported that Ike Davis is in “serious danger” of facing a demotion to Las Vegas unless he shows serious signs of improvement this weekend in Chicago. Although Davis was able to break a long slump yesterday afternoon in Chicago, his .160/.245/.267 is lending the team no favors as they struggle to muster more than three runs per game. At this juncture, Justin Turner would be a far more productive first baseman.
Terry Collins famously stood by Ike Davis last year when he faced a demotion and watched as he turned his season around in powerful fashion. The circumstances are much different in 2013 than 2012 for Davis’ big league future; However, because not only did he have a very impressive spring, he also is well over a year removed from his ankle injury and Valley Fever. The critics continue to call Ike Davis out for a myriad of reasons: His swing is too long, he’s standing too far away from the plate, he’s watching pitches he should be swinging at, and the most famous reason has nothing to do with his swing, but his confidence. Davis simply doesn’t look like a major league hitter at the plate despite his previous performance. Baseball is a results-oriented business and much like in investments, past results are not indicative of future success.
As a fan, it’s incredibly hard to watch a player with as much talent as Davis has to continue to struggle so mightily at the plate. His mighty swing brought faith into a fan base who saw him not only as Carlos Delgado’s replacement, but the future cornerstone of the position. His 19 home runs in 2010 led to his incredibly hot start in 2011 that saw him hit seven through the middle of May, but things haven’t quite been the same since. The value of Ike Davis isn’t necessarily that he hits 30 home runs a year, but that he consistently drives the ball all over the field and has the natural power to send it into the stands if he makes good contact. He has shown that he can be a phenomenal, fear-inducing hitter, but he hasn’t shown it in far too long.
For every Eddie Kunz, there’s a Matt Harvey. For every National League Championship Series, there’s 2009. For Ike Davis, there’s the talent to become the franchise cornerstone at first base, but there’s a roadblock that needs to be moved. If letting Davis work out his struggles in Las Vegas is what it takes for him to return to form, it’s certainly not the worst thing in the world (although it’s incredibly disappointing from a fan’s perspective).
Photo Credit: Michael Baron