New York Mets: is J.D. Davis’ 2019 offensive breakout for real?

New York Mets, J.D. Davis

After a couple of unsuccessful stints in the Majors in 2017 and 2018, the Houston Astros traded third baseman J.D. Davis and SS Cody Bohanek to New York Mets for SS Luis Santana, OF Ross Adolph and C Scott Manea.

Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets noticed the .342/.406/.583 line with the 156 wRC+ he put in Triple-A in 2018. He also considered Davis’ prospect pedigree, and that with at-bats, he could develop into a productive hitter. And boy, he did it.

In 2019 with the Mets, he hit for a line of .307/.369/.527 with 22 home runs in 453 plate appearances. He had a 136 wRC+, the third-best mark in the team. Davis broke out offensively last season.

The question remains: can he do it again? Yes, he appears capable of having a strong career with the bat. As we often say: good things happen when a batter hits the ball hard with consistency.

Davis’ Statcast numbers in 2019 with the New York Mets

Average exit velocity: 91.4 mph (90th percentile)

Hard-hit rate: 47.7 (91st percentile)

xwOBA: .383 (92nd percentile)

xBA: .308 (97th percentile)

xSLG: 91st percentile

Talk about murdering the ball. His BABIP is a tad high at .355, but given how hard he hits the ball and his healthy 22.9 line-drive rate, it seems somewhat sustainable even with his below-average speed (37th percentile.) The semi-regular at-bats that the Mets gave him certainly worked.

It remains to be seen, however, whether he can be a 30 or 35-home run threat with a meager 30.2 fly ball percentage. He ranked 264th in average distance (ft.) with 171 in 2019.

As things stand, he can have 25-HR pop with .300+ average, which is an awfully useful player at the dish. If he can hit more liners and flies, he can reach new heights in the power department for the Mets or any other team.

For now, his path towards playing time with the Mets seems somewhat blocked. The team brough Jake Marisnick to share center with Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes will play if they are healthy. Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso are atop the depth chart at the infield corners. Dominic Smith is also on the roster.

Davis would be better off in an American League’s team, so he could DH. He had a very bad -9.0 fielding runs this year and is clearly a lousy defender.

For now, he can be an impact hitter for as long as he is with the New York Mets. But if you were asking yourself whether his breakout performance in 2019 was sustainable, it most likely is.