Ike Davis is a risky option at first base, but he has star potential the Brewers could desperately use.
The Brewers are in a tricky situation as a franchise at the moment. They are blessed with star power in their starting lineup, boasting sluggers such as Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, along with proven major leaguers in Jonathan Lucroy and Rickie Weeks.
However, despite their star talent, last year Milwaukee finished 14 games under .500 and 23 games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals. They also have one of the weakest farm systems in all of baseball, ranked as the worst following the 2013 MLB draft according to Bleacher Report's Adam Wells.
Which potentially available first baseman do you think is the Brewers' best option?
While Braun’s suspension and injuries to players like Lucroy can partially explain the Brewers’ misfortunes in 2013, it’s hard to believe that they would have been able to leapfrog the three teams that finished above them in the NL Central under any circumstances.
Since the Brewers have given no indication that they want to trade stars like Ryan Braun and rebuild, the team needs to attain an impact player that doesn’t appear to be on the horizon in their farm system if they want any chance of competing in the near future.
Ike Davis would provide Milwaukee with a potential impact bat that could change the team's fortunes.
It’s no secret that Davis has struggled in recent years, having an especially bad 2013 season. In 103 games for the Mets, Davis hit .205 with a meager nine home runs and a remarkably high 26.8 strikeout percentage. Not only was Davis unable to be a consistent player at the plate for New York, but the power that still made him valuable was absent.
Coming off such a terrible season, and with the New York Mets looking to shop the left-handed slugger, right now is the perfect time for a team like the Milwaukee Brewers to take a chance on the 26-year-old first baseman.
Davis wasn’t always the frustratingly inconsistent player he’s perceived as today, as he was one of the more promising young power hitters in the league upon his big league debut. He had a promising rookie season, hitting 19 home runs and posting a 3.1 WAR. Davis seemed like he was bound for superstardom in his 2011 sophomore campaign, hitting .302 with seven home runs and 25 runs batted in in just 36 games, before an unfortunate injury in Colorado (video below) ended his season and dashed any hopes the Mets had for contention.
Since the injury, Davis has been the epitome of inconsistency for the Mets. While the team was excited about his return in 2012, Davis fell victim to a freak case of Valley Fever and got off to an abysmal start to the season.
Via Colin Zarzycki of FanGraphs, in Davis’ first 201 plate appearances he hit .158/.234/.273 with five home runs and a 59/18 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Mets stayed patient with their slugger, and it paid off, as he finished the season in 383 plate appearances with a .265/.347/.565 slash line, hitting 27 home runs with 69 RBI. Not only did Davis show the promise to become a prolific power hitter over the second half of the season, but according to Zarzycki, these numbers project to an elite 44 home runs and 112 RBI over a 162 game season.
After such a strong second half, the Mets and their fans once again saw Davis’ monster potential and had hopes for an improved 2013 season. But after his horrific season, Valley Fever could no longer be the excuse and it appeared as if Davis lost all confidence, collapsing under the pressure of the New York media.
With Ike Davis’ value being at an all-time low, combined with the Brewers' insistence on keeping their players but needing an additional star bat to actually be a contender, Ike Davis stands out as the perfect option as Milwaukee's first baseman.
Not all players can handle the New York media, and it appears that Davis is among those who cannot. That doesn’t mean Davis is a lost cause as a professional, but it instead makes him the perfect candidate for a breakout season following a change of scenery.
The comparisons are easy to make because of how they both play first base and share the same last name, but Ike Davis leaving New York could give him the potential to break out like slugger Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles did. Davis has as much raw power as anybody in the league, visible through his prolific shots, like in the video below:
As a franchise unable to attract top-tier free agents, the Brewers need to jump on the opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle with Davis. He is still young, and an escape from the New York media along with a move to the much more hitter-friendly confines of Miller Park could allow Davis to thrive in Milwaukee.
According to FoxSports' Ken Rosenthal in the below tweet, the Mets are demanding Tyler Thornburg for Davis, but the Brewers are resistant:
Thornburg is a nice prospect, ranked second in Milwaukee’s farm system by SBNation’s John Sickels, but ESPN’s Keith Law projects the right-hander as a reliever at best. If a future reliever is all that is standing between Davis and the Brewers, Milwaukee needs to take the risk and deal for the young slugger.
The Brewers don’t have stars like Ryan Braun or Carlos Gomez coming up through their system anytime soon, and trading for Ike Davis gives them the potential of acquiring such a star. Davis is a risk, and there is a good chance he flames out and never reverts back to the potential he exhibited early in his career, but there is also a chance that with a change of scenery and less media attention, he could flourish.
It’s time for the Brewers to take a risk, and trading for Ike Davis is the perfect chance for the team to do so and potentially vault themselves back into NL Central contention.
All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.
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