With the 2012 season almost at its end, the Mets will potentially have to make a big decision whether to trade one of their left-handed hitting sluggers. One option is first baseman Ike Davis, and the other is outfielder Lucas Duda.
The Mets do not necessarily have to trade either of them, but will be open to doing so for the right price. However, unless the Mets are blown away with an amazing offer they cannot refuse, they should at least make sure that Ike Davis stays with the Mets.
Despite a horrendous start to his season, Davis has been one of the Mets' best hitters thanks to a very resurgent second half to his season. His defense has been great all year, and he is becoming more and more of an offensive leader for a Mets team that is in dire need to another offensive superstar alongside David Wright.
Here are 10 reasons why the Mets cannot afford to trade Ike Davis in the offseason.
Davis may have struggled for the first three months of this season, but he was always hitting home runs and has been hitting even more in the second half. He could possibly become the first Met to get over 30 home runs in a season since David Wright and Carlos Delgado in 2008.
Despite all the struggles he had through June, Davis has still had a much better season than that of Lucas Duda. Duda has a better average (.246) than Davis (.223), but the fact that Davis has 105 more at-bats than Duda likely affects this comparison. The same could be said for Duda's higher OBP (.331) than Davis' (.302).
Other than those statistics, Davis has clearly had the better season. His 27 home runs and 81 RBI are both much higher than Duda's 14 home runs and 57 RBI. Duda also has a higher OPS (.746) than Duda (.733).
Furthermore, Davis has a much better proven track record over his career than Duda. Davis was a contender for the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2010, while Duda was not as impressive in his own rookie season in 2011.
With all this being said, Davis has definitely been a better overall hitter than Duda.
Not everyone on the Mets is playing at their natural positions. Daniel Murphy is a natural third baseman who can also play first base. However, he is now a second baseman because of the presence of both David Wright at third base and Davis at first base.
Duda is a natural first baseman himself. However, he has been playing in the outfield for the past few years thanks to Davis being a first baseman. Why didn't Davis have to learn a new position? It's because he was already a much better defensive first baseman.
In his rookie season, Davis wowed Mets fans everywhere with three separate catches over the dugout rail at Citi Field. His defensive skills took immediate notice, and he is definitely capable of winning at least three or four Gold Glove Awards during his career. In fact, he is likely the favorite to win the award this year.
Davis' fielding percentage in the major leagues has never been lower than .993 in a single season. He has 1,045 putouts in 1,114 chances with 61 assists as well. Davis has always played very well in bunt situations, throws well for a first baseman and is great with making diving catches as well.
Duda, on the other hand, is not as skilled defensively at first base. He is larger and less agile than Davis, which means that he cannot cover as much ground. This would explain why he has had trouble doing so in the outfield.
Furthermore, Davis throws left-handed, while Duda does not. As a result, Davis has yet another advantage because of pickoff throws being easier for left-handed throwers to swipe on base-runners.
The Mets over the years have had overweight first basemen that have made countless errors and have simply not done well in the field. Former Met Mo Vaughn would certainly come to mind. Duda may not be as big as Vaughn was, but again, there was a reason why he was converted into an outfielder instead of Davis.
Not only has Davis been a great defensive first baseman the last few years, but he has also made the defensive play of the other infielders around him better as well.
David Wright has made big strides defensively with this throws, and because of this, he is very likely in line to win his third Gold Glove Award this year. He has 10 errors this year, which is an improvement from 19 within 101 games in 2011. Some of Wright's throws may still be offline, but he has a first baseman in Davis that has scooped out low throws for him, among other things.
Shortstop Ruben Tejada has always been great defensively, but in his first year as the Mets' everyday shortstop, he has done very well despite all the pressure on him to fill the shoes of Jose Reyes. Davis' steady defense has likely made Tejada more comfortable in the field and has resulted in a better performance overall from the young shortstop.
Second baseman Daniel Murphy was one of the Mets' biggest defensive concerns this year, but has played much better in the field this year than anyone would have expected. Turning double plays is still a work in progress for him, but he can now cover more ground and play better.
Like he has with Tejada, Davis has made Murphy more comfortable in the field because Murphy can trust him to make great catches at first base, even if his own throw is slightly off line.
The defense of a first baseman usually goes unnoticed because they tend to be the big sluggers in the lineup, but in reality, the defense of a first baseman makes the rest of the infield perform better. This was certainly the case when Keith Hernandez and John Olerud, among others, were once playing first base for the Mets.
It's no secret that the Mets are no longer the power-hitting team they once were from 2006-2008. As a result, there really aren't too many sources of power in their everyday lineup.
Davis is by far the Mets' best source of power, and there really isn't much competition to choose from. David Wright has had the best power success over the year, but has also been in the league a lot longer than most of his teammates. Scott Hairston has a lot of power, but there's only so much he can do in a part-time platoon role.
As for Lucas Duda, he has a lot of potential to be a slugger, but he has yet to really put it together over a full season.
Thus, Davis is clearly the Mets' best power hitter. He has 10 more home runs than Wright, who is second on the team. Furthermore, Davis is the one hitter that opposing pitchers would fear that could change the outcome of a game with one swing.
Not only has Davis hit a lot of home runs, but many of them have been quite long in distance, which shows that few, if any, of his home runs are cheap shots that were just over the fence. He has hit much better on the road, but hopefully within another year, he will be even more comfortable with hitting in Citi Field.
Hopefully, Davis can continue to be the Mets' big slugger in their lineup for years like his predecessor, Carlos Delgado, was for over three seasons.
The Mets certainly need stability in their lineup to succeed in the future. They already have a solid No. 3 hitter in David Wright. Wright, though, always needs a slugger that can hit behind him so that he can get good pitches to hit. Ike Davis fits that cleanup hitter role perfectly.
Davis, of course, is a slugger that can hit the ball a mile, but is not a particular contact hitter, which makes the No. 4 spot great for him. The third and fourth spots of a lineup are arguably two of the three most critical spots in the order. With Wright and Davis at those spots, the Mets are quite capable of driving in runs, even though they haven't really done so for the past few months.
Assuming that Wright and Davis will both be staying put for years, the Mets will be able to take the next step and build a better lineup around those two. The current group of hitters has potential, but in order to attain the desired results, the Mets may have to get better players to improve the team.
Not only do first basemen make the rest of the infield perform better, but they also make the rest of the team perform better in a leadership role.
The Mets have had many first basemen as some of their team leaders over the years. Ed Kranepool spent his entire career with the Mets, while Dave Kingman was one of the most feared sluggers in the 1970s.
Keith Hernandez was the Mets' clubhouse leader throughout the middle and late 1980s, and his leadership made his teammates around him perform better at every position. He kept his teammates in check and helped them remain focused on playing well.
John Olerud and Carlos Delgado are two of the Mets' more recent first basemen, and both veterans provided a lot of leadership in their respective times in New York. Olerud helped turn a 1997 Mets team from losers into postseason contenders, while Delgado was a very helpful mentor for Jose Reyes and David Wright.
Similarly, Davis can become a leader for this team alongside Wright because he is arguably the second most well-known Mets hitter. He is only going to get better and handles the media very well. He has done everything asked of him and will soon be asked to mentor some of the other young Mets players.
The Mets no longer have the offensive cornerstone trio of David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. Wright is the only one that is still on the team. Thus, the Mets now need a now set of cornerstone players around Wright.
The most obvious offensive cornerstone for the Mets aside from Wright would have to be Davis. He provides defensive stability at first base, is a feared slugger and always does everything he can to help his team win. He is one other hitter that the Mets can feel good building around.
The fact of the matter is that few other positions are secure right now for the Mets, and Davis is one person that the team can feel confident in building around, along with Wright. The same cannot be said to the same degree for any other position player on the team.
Unlike Lucas Duda, Davis is not as versatile in the field. He pitched in college, but other than that, has been a first baseman for his entire life. However, this is not bad for Davis at all.
The biggest reason why Davis is not versatile and does not play the outfield is because he doesn't need to. He is a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman and provides more to the team defensively than Duda could ever provide at any position. That alone is why Davis has been the Mets' first baseman since 2010 and why a few of his teammates have been forced to learn new positions.
In just his second full season in the major leagues, Davis is already a fan favorite among Mets fans. Part of this has to do with the fact that there are not too many fan favorites to choose from, but also because Davis has earned the respect of the fans.
Mets fans respect Davis for his hitting, his long home runs, his consistent defense and his overall leadership. He is definitely among the top three Mets as far as player merchandise sales go. In other words, Mets merchandise with Davis' name is quite popular compared to that of his teammates.
Even during his three month-long slump this year, fans stuck by Davis in hopes that he could have a huge second half. And that is exactly what has happened. Sure, fans may have gotten fed up with his lack of performance after a while, but they did not give up on him altogether.
Now that Davis is back to being a powerful slugger, he has a ton of support from the fans, and just about all of them would be very sad to see him to see him if go if such a trade were to occur. Mets fans are definitely more sold on Davis than Lucas Duda, for example, as being the first baseman of the future, and if the Mets choose Duda over Davis, it will most likely not make fans happy at all.
The above slide title does not mean that Davis is untouchable, but his value to the Mets is certainly greater than his potential value for other teams.
The Mets lack power in a significant way within their lineup, and Davis is the one reliable source of power that they have. As long as he is healthy, he will provide a lot of home runs, RBI, big hits and great defense at first base. There are not many other Mets that can be counted on for production that consistent.
The Mets are trying to work hard and eliminate the problems within the team in order to build a true contender. Davis, though, is part of the solution and should not be one of the players for the front office to worry about.
The Mets need a new bullpen, a completely new outfield and could always use more depth throughout the roster. Those three issues need to be dealt with way before anything related to Davis. Those issues are more uncertain and much bigger concerns than the production of one of their best hitters.
The only way a trade for Davis would work is if another team offers an even better first baseman, plus a lot of additional talent. But with the slim odds of that occurring, the Mets are much better off sticking with Davis at first base for a long time. He has the potential to be a superstar, and the Mets cannot afford to let him reach his full potential elsewhere.