On Friday night, the Pirates announced their acquisition of first baseman Ike Davis from the New York Mets. It took a while, but it appears that the Pirates have found their guy for 1B. Here’s a look at Ike…
Weight: 220 lbs.
Drafted by the New York Mets in the 1st round of the 2008 draft
After tearing up the minor leagues in 2009, Davis failed to fully become an impact hitter at the MLB level. He had a really solid rookie campaign and then got off to a hot start in 2011, but an ankle injury derailed the rest of his season. Ike launched 32 homers in 2012, but hit just .227 with a .308 OBP. He was terrible last year, posting a .661 OPS, appearing in only 103 games, and spending some time in the minors.
He’s shown clear platoon splits in his career – .256/.357/.471 vs. RHP; .202/.267/.331 vs. LHP – and he figures to split time at 1B with Gaby Sanchez. Considering Ike’s career .828 OPS vs. RHP and Gaby’s career .900 OPS vs. LHP, that’s not a terrible platoon.
On the surface, Davis seems a lot like former Bucco first baseman Adam LaRoche. Not only do they look a bit alike, their numbers have been quite similar – identical 112 career wRC+, 20-30 homer potential, high strikeout rates, low average but decent OBP due to solid walk rates. Both with that long lefty stroke…
The power should be there, but expect quite a few strikeouts. Since 2012, Davis has the 15th highest K% in the National League at 24.8%. Also on that list: Starling Marte (9th, 25.9%) and Pedro Alvarez (2nd, 30.1%). Might be tough to watch every night…
Offense is the focal point here – the Bucs could use a better bat first base. Travis Ishikawa simply isn’t a guy to keep around for 162 games. In a league dominated by right-handed pitching, Gaby Sanchez could use a better left-handed complement.
By defensive metrics, Davis is pretty average at first base. He was named the Florida State League’s best defensive first baseman back in 2009, so there’s that. Again, offense is the main focus here, so as long as he can play average defense and not totally kill the team with his glove, he’ll be plenty capable at first.
Ike, under team control through the 2016 season, got $3.5 million through arbitration for 2014; the Pirates owe him $3.14 mil of that.
In order to land him, the Pirates parted ways with RHP Zack Thornton and a player to be named later. The 25-year-old Thornton, acquired for Chris Resop in November of 2012, showed some good stuff (10.8 K/9, 1.4 BB/9) and a 2.63 ERA between Bradenton, Altoona, and Indy last year. The player to be named is supposedly “fairly significant,” although I feel like that’s said quite often in PTBNL deals… Any top prospect going to New York would be a gross overpay, but I don’t think it will be any high profile guys.
- Ike Davis was Baseball America’s #62 prospect in 2009. A former first rounder who hasn’t quite panned out… Sounds like a Neal Huntington player.
“Hopefully this is a move that solves our first-base needs for years to come” … “He had a walk rate of almost 20 percent, the strikeouts were down, the hard contact was up. And, again, left-handed hitters are probably a better fit in our ballpark than (at Citi Field) in New York”
“Honestly, it’s a little weird. I’ve been with the Mets organization for a long time, and made some really good friendships and stuff like that. That’s the toughest part, I think… I really had a blast in New York. I made my dreams come true, childhood dreams come true, playing in the big leagues here. But it’s just a stepping-stone. It happens to a lot of people, getting traded. Now [I'll] go help my team in Pittsburgh.”
- What does this mean for Andrew Lambo? Huntington said, “We still think Andrew Lambo is going to be a very good big league player. It’s just that right now we think Ike Davis is a better fit for us.” It looked like Lambo was gonna get a shot at 1B until his awful spring at the plate. Now he’s blocked by Davis for the next year or two, and with no room in the outfield, it’s not looking good for his chances.
- You can follow the newest Bucco on Twitter at @Iked29.