Ike Davis: Is the New York Mets 1B Ready To Break Into Superstar Status in 2011?
New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis burst onto the scene last year en route to having a successful rookie campaign.
After Daniel Murphy’s injury in spring training 2010, Davis appeared to be the likely successor. However, the Mets opted to use veteran Mike Jacobs at first.
That experiment flopped, which allowed Davis to get his chance.
With one year under his belt, Davis is poised to have a breakout year in 2011. He may not put up Albert Pujols-type numbers, but then again, not many first basemen can.
Davis will look to improve upon his rookie season as spring training wraps up.
Here are 10 reasons Davis is ready to become a superstar this season.
10. Understands His Role
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Coming into this season, Ike Davis’ role at first base is firmly cemented.
However, at this time last year, Davis was unsure of whether he’d be in the majors or minors.
Once he earned his call-up, Davis never looked back. Often, a young player gets sent down again after his first call-up because he either can’t take the heat or the injured player recovers.
Though Davis has not prepared any differently this spring, he does have the added luxury of knowing what his role will be from day one this season.
When a player has this luxury, he can stay relaxed and won’t press, which will lead to positive results on the field.
Davis’ role includes driving in a ton of runs and being a defensive stalwart at first base.
9. Has Played Well This Spring
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Ike Davis has been hitting the ball well all spring.
While spring stats don’t matter and don’t necessarily predict success during the season, it’s good to see Davis hitting the ball hard.
He’s driven in 10 runs thus far in 15 games.
Davis will look to continue swinging the bat well as the Mets prepare for Opening Day on April 1st in Miami.
8. Producing Consistently in New York
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Ike Davis’ superstar status will be firmly entrenched if he can put up big numbers in New York.
Unfortunately, the Mets have been the laughingstock of the league the past few years in regards to their performance on the field, their financial issues and poor free-agent signings.
Playing under the bright lights of New York can have a serious impact on a player. Some players crumble, while others are able to rise above the pressure.
If a player succeeds in New York, he becomes an instant superstar.
A perfect example is New York Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher. He had some good years in Oakland, but he has become a household name after two productive years in the Bronx—including a World Series title.
A big year from Davis will alert the league that the Mets have some talented pieces heading into the future.
7. Avoiding the Sophomore Slump
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Many rookies who have a good first season can’t seem to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump.”
These young players aren’t used to playing 150-plus games in back-to-back seasons, so they tend to wear out more easily their second year.
If Davis can get off to a hot start, he won’t even have to deal with the grumblings of a sophomore slump.
The sophomore slump is very psychological. A second-year player goes through a rough patch and starts being questioned about the sophomore slump. The player starts thinking too much about the slump and can’t snap out of it, further adding to the slump.
In Davis’ case, a sophomore slump can be avoided by staying within himself and focusing on one at-bat at a time.
6. Gold Glove-Caliber Defense
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Though Ike Davis may be more well-known for his powerful swing, he played Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base last year.
He’s not afraid to get dirty and can pick it with the best of them.
Also, he made a few circus catches along the dugout railing, which are always exciting plays to watch.
With some fine-tuning of his defense, Davis will become a better all-around player, which will aid in his superstar status.
A few Gold Gloves should adorn his mantle in the near future.
5. Blossoming Clubhouse Leader
Though he will only be entering his second season, Ike Davis will be expected to develop into a clubhouse leader.
His hard work on and off the field has resonated with the organization, which is prepared to highlight Davis as one of its budding stars.
Davis has already become a favorite among the media for his insightful comments and fun-loving attitude.
It’s easy to express those feelings after a win, but Davis will also have to be available for postgame comments after tough losses.
There are lots of new faces for the Mets this season, so Davis will aid in creating a strong clubhouse atmosphere.
Now that the headaches of Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez are gone, team unity shouldn’t be an issue for the Mets.
4. Less Pressure...Hopefully
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Last season, Ike Davis batted fourth in the Mets’ lineup for most of the season due to the absence of Carlos Beltran and the lack of production from Jason Bay.
There was a ton of pressure on Davis to consistently produce, and for the most part, he came through when needed.
However, this season, the Mets originally slated Davis to hit sixth behind a healthy Beltran and Bay.
After initially tweaking his swing this spring, Bay has swung the bat well but will return to his original approach to hitting, according to Steve Popper of the Bergen Record. Meanwhile, Beltran injured his good knee in the only game he’s played thus far and will likely miss the rest of Grapefruit League action.
Davis would thrive batting behind a healthy Beltran and Bay because he would have so many more opportunities to see more pitches and drive in runs.
If Beltran can return healthy relatively soon and Bay can take his altered swing into the season, Davis has the chance to put up some big numbers.
3. Power Stroke
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In the words of former Mets pitcher and current television announcer Ron Darling when speaking about Ike Davis: “He’s got some serious power.”
Davis takes a big swing every time he steps to the plate and hits moon shots when he connects.
He crushed 19 home runs his rookie year—many of which either tied a ball game or put the Mets ahead.
None of his shots were more clutch than this walk-off bomb he crushed against the San Diego Padres in early June.
In a full season, Davis has the power to hit 30-plus home runs.
2. Patience at the Plate
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One facet of his game that Ike Davis has been working on is his patience at the plate.
He went through stretches of free-swinging last season that resulted in 138 strikeouts.
As a power hitter, strikeouts are inevitable. However, Davis can improve his on-base percentage by laying off bad pitches and drawing walks instead.
This is much easier said than done, so Davis will keep working hard the next two weeks.
This spring, Davis has struck out seven times in 37 at-bats, but he has also drawn six walks.
If he shows patience at the plate, opposing pitchers won’t be able to rely on Davis swinging at bad pitches and will therefore give Davis more pitches to hit.
It’s up to Ike to hit those pitches hard.
1. Not Content with His Rookie Season
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The great thing about Ike Davis in his quest to become a superstar is that he is never content with his performance.
Davis said he will not settle for being a .260 hitter the rest of his career and wants to improve on all aspects of his game.
It’s this passion and drive that will allow Davis to take the next step in his career.
So many players experience some success in the major leagues and are content with producing at that same level for their entire careers.
However, Davis genuinely wants to produce at the highest level for the Mets.
This desire to succeed proves that Davis is ready to achieve superstar status in 2011.