Reese Kaplan -- A Tale of 2 Players & 2 Managers


If you polled any Mets fans during this incredible run and asked what was the most important acquisition made in the off-season, it wasn’t the high profile trade to Seattle or the several free agent signings that signaled the Mets were serious about winning.  No, it was the unheralded signing of a suspect good-hit/no-field player from the Astros organization by the name of J.D. Davis who cost the club catcher Scott Manea, outfielder Ross Adolph and infielder Luis Santana.  The Mets also received an infielder named Cody Bohanek.  None of the prospects that went to Houston have done much this year but Davis has been a lynchpin in the club’s rise to success.

At the time the best some folks could say was, “Well, I guess he’s a cheaper version of Wilmer Flores” who was allowed to depart as a free agent to the Arizona Diamondbacks to the tune of $3.75 million this year and either $6 million next year or a $500K buyout.  J.D. Davis makes minimum and has several years of team control, so it made sense if Davis could indeed translate his AAA batting title success to the big league level. 

Right now in 306 ABs, about half a season’s worth of play, Davis is hitting .310 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs.  It’s funny that when given the chance to play no one is complaining about his defense anymore, huh?

The man he replaced isn't exactly bottom feeding either.  He's hitting .307 with 6 home runs and 22 RBIs in just 189 ABs.  He was vexed by the veteran bias of his manager and the never ending criticism of his defense.  In one game on Memorial Day in 2017 Flores got three hits, raising his season’s average to .317 and his hot streak performance to .389, so naturally Terry Collins benched him to get playing time for the .202 hitting Jose Reyes. 

This should come as no surprise to anyone who watched the white-haired skipper over his career.  The game immediately after Flores tied Edgar Alfonzo’s 6-hit performance for a club record (including two home runs), the great demotivator benched him in favor of Jose Reyes.  To his credit, Reyes went 1-5 and Flores, a late game sub went 1-2 with 3 RBIs showing he was once again the better choice.

So the hypothetical I posed to a group of fellow Mets fans just recently was how deeply on the Mets bench would J.D. Davis be buried if Terry Collins still held the lineup pencil.  Granted, J.D. Davis was not Mickey Callaway’s first choice, either, but with injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Nimmo and at various times to Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, Dom Smith and others, Davis was given playing time.  The big difference is not that Davis delivered, it’s that Callaway rode the hot hand instead of benching him after delivering. 

Given the hot spell that has people talking about October baseball not wistfully as a thing of the past, but as a distinct possibility, it’s nice to see a guy like Davis getting the opportunity to show what he can do.  What will be interesting to see is as the cavalry arrives what will the new manager do with playing time. 


Mack Ade said...

It is going to get crowded next month in the Mets clubhouse and it we be close to impossible to start your top 8 players every day.

I can live with Davis being a part time fill in, both in the outfield and infield, but he is core player on this team starting next season and needs to get 500 at-bats on this team.

Reese, you know how much I follow and analyse the Mets guppies. I never regretting losing the players in this trade, though I did wish that Santana could have been kept a Met.

Mack Ade said...

Follow up...

Let's say that next year's core starters will be:

1B - Alonso

2B - TBD

SS - Rosario

3B - TBD

LF - McNeil

CF - Nimmo

RF - Conforto

I would send David to winter ball and make a deal with that team that he on that his time there is mostly at either second or third.

Mark my word... one or two of Cano and Lowrie will go down again next year.

If that happens, you can either slot Davis right into third (Lowrie) or play him lin left and move McNeil into his natural position of second (Cano).

Tom Brennan said...

Davis was a great get.

bill metsiac said...

If everyone's healthy, our roster includes the 2 catchers, plus Pete, Cano, Amed, Frazier, Panik, JDD, McNeil, Yo, 4to, Nimmo, Lag, Lowrie Dom Smith, and Guillorme.

Of these, Frazier, Lag and Panik are (I believe) the ones with expiring contracts. It's pretty clear that Frazier is gone, but Lag and Panik are making cases for re-signing.

I didn't include R. Davis or Altherr, because the latter is history and the former will be very soon.

It's a crowded scene, even without new FA signings and callups. A lot of guys who have played well enough to be everyday players will be victims of the numbers game.

Putting the lineup together will be a nice problem to have, but it clearly a problem.

And if Reese can ever overcome his acute Terryphobia, maybe he'll suggest reasonable alternatives. 😅

Reese Kaplan said...

Bill missed the point. The facts about how TC handled his good hit/no field player differs dramatically from how MC dealt with his this year.

Mack's Mets © 2012