The Mets are bringing the fences in at Citi Field and that sound you heard when the announcement was made several months ago was the champagne corks going off in the hitters’ households, as well as their keeper league fantasy owners. Ike Davis is certainly to be one of the primary beneficiaries of the change. With Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols‘ departure to the other league this off-season, the National League first base crop is looking mighty thing. That gives Davis the opportunity to actually be the second most valuable at the position, behind Joey Votto. Let’s see what he may do.
At-Bats: 550. Davis was limited to just 129 at-bats last year after a freak ankle injury, but tallied 523 during his 2010 rookie year. He’s a lefty who has posted just a .321 wOBA against them over his short career, so he may sit down against the occasional southpaw. However, he is the de facto every day starter at first, so he should have no problem eclipsing his 2010 mark, barring injury.
Contact Rate: 75%. He posted a 76% rate in a small sample last year and about a 74% rate in 2010. He has posted rates in the low to mid 70% range throughout the lower minors, so is it safe to assume a sudden jump to 80% is not in the cards.
GB%/LD%/FB%: 42%/17%/41%. These are nearly his current Major League averages. Since these stay relatively stable from year to year, it is best to assume something similar unless he makes a dramatic change to his hitting approach.
BABIP: .320. The two expected BABIP formulas I use spit out .326 and .304. That’s one of the larger disagreements I have seen and I almost always end up splitting the difference somewhat. He has always posted high BABIPs in the minors, with no lower than a .318 mark, so the .326 expectation appears more on the money to me. Furthermore, so far that strong BABIP skill has translated to the majors, as he holds a .325 career mark. That said, for young players with a limited track record, it is always smart to project BABIP with a bit of assumed regression, which explains the .320 mark, rather than something higher.
HR/FB Ratio: 16%. Though he only posted a 12% mark in 2010, Davis has massive power. He did increase the rate to 17.1% last year, but it was in such a small sample, it is hard to put too much weight on it. The massive power description comes after seeing his ESPN Hit Tracker data. Last season, his home runs came off the bat at a speed significantly above the league average, and his home runs traveled much further as well. Davis does not hit cheapies. I normally would still have projected a bit of regression off his mark last year, but with the fences moving in, I bumped it up another 1%.
RBI and Runs: 90 and 85. He is currently projected to hit clean up, sandwiched between David Wright and Lucas Duda. His power will drive the solid RBI total, but a mediocre batting average and above average walk rate will cap it somewhat. The good OBP, despite that so-so average, will ensure that he posts a respectable runs scored total even with his slow foot speed.
SBs: 1. He stole 3 in 5 attempts in 2010 and didn’t make an attempt last year. He never stole a base in the minors. Maybe this is his breakout speed year and he steals 4?!
Below is my final projected batting line, along with Bill James, RotoChamp and Fans projections for comparison.