#1 – 1B Ike Davis

Bats/Throws: L/L

Height/Weight: 6’5”, 195 lbs

Acquired: 1st rd 08 – 18th overall (Arizona State)

Born: 3/22/87 (Edina, MN)

2009 Rank: #14

Why Ranked Here: Davis gets the number one spot on this list by virtue of achieving two things that Fernando Martinez, ranked immediately behind him, has never accomplished: he stayed healthy all season, and he hit 20 home runs.  Also, Davis’ downside projection – average regular – is better than Martinez’s.  That higher probability of some MLB value earns him this spot.    He had an impressive spring training in 2010 and I expect him to break camp in 2011 as the Mets starting 1B, barring a major, unexpected trade.

Davis has above average bat speed and really does his damage against fastballs.  His power, which is above average, is from straight-away center-field on over to the right-field line.  He can take a pitch, working a count to pick one he can handle and drive.  Patience and power is a great foundation for an offensive game.

Mechanically, Davis’s swing is not simple, but he makes it all work. He drops his hands back and down almost all the way to the jersey letters in his load, which leads to a hitch in the back. He takes a fairly large stride, which can lead to him being out on his front foot against breaking balls.  Because his hands moved down at the beginning, he can be beat and will chase fastballs up.

Davis had trouble against left-handers in the early season in the Florida State League, but changed his approach and improved against southpaws in the Eastern League where his .807 OPS  against lefties was almost 300 points better than his .509 OPS against left-handers in the FSL.   In November, Davis explained that he had altered his approach against lefties and worked on keeping his mechanics together against southpaws.  This improvement speaks well of his self-awareness, coachability and ability to make further refinements to his game.

One more concern about Davis moving forward is whether he will hit for enough average to be true star at first base. In AA and the FSL, he posted walk rates above 11%.   However, his strikeout rate  moved from 20%  with St. Lucie to 25% with Binghamton. Strikeout rates that high make it very difficult, although not impossible to be a .300 hitter in the big leagues.

Davis continues to work himself into better shape, with the results most obvious in his work around the first base bag, where his agility and length made him a strong defender.  A former closer in college, his strong arm is slightly squandered at first. He played in the outfield for team USA in the baseball World Cup in Europe, but that was largely so that Team USA could get Davis’s bat in the lineup at the same time as Rangers’ prospect Justin Smoak who also plays first base.  There are scenarios where Davis could break into the big leagues by mixing time at OF and 1B, but they’re relatively unlikely given the current shape of the Mets roster.

2009: Davis, the Mets first pick in the 2008 draft, selected 18th overall out of Arizona State had a brutal professional debut that summer with Brooklyn. However, be recovered in a big way in 09, his age 22 season. Davis hit his way out of the Florida State league by the middle of June.  He was particularly hot over his final two weeks in FSL, hitting .319/.418/.638  before his promotion to Binghamton.  Promoted to AA, Davis appeared to adjust to the higher level by initially focusing on making contact: he did not have a homerun for his first 11 games despite a . 395 on base percentage.   However he found his power stroke later in the summer, crushing 13 home runs over his final 44 games.

Dr. Pangloss Says: Multi-time All-star at 1B

Debbie Downer Says: First baseman/DH, but not a special one

Projected 2010 Start: AAA Buffalo

MLB Arrival: July 1: when the Mets tire of Mike Jacobs ~.300 OBP, and Daniel Murphy (assuming he’s back healthy) subpar production from 1B

08 – SSA 58 215 55 15 0 0 23 43 0 0 .256 .326 .326 9.6 18.0 6.3 .318
09 – A+ 59 222 64 17 3 7 31 52 0 2 .288 .376 .486 12.2 20.4 10.6 .348
09 – AA 55 207 64 14 0 13 26 60 0 0 .309 .386 .565 11.2 25.8 11.6 .381
09- AFL 21 85 29 7 0 4 8 23 0 0 .341 .394 .565 8.5 24.5 11.7 .424