Saturday, May 25, 2013

Our Ike Davis May Not Even Be The Best Ike Davis

Ike Davis is as confused about the title of this post as he is with a bat in his hands.

I'm sure you're looking at the title of this post, scratching your head and wondering what the fudge I'm talking about.  Well, the Ike Davis currently playing for the Mets is not the first player named Ike Davis to suit up for a major league team.  And with the way the 21st century Ike Davis is playing, the 20th century Ike Davis might soon be the better of the two Ikes.

Isaac Marion Davis (better known as Ike Davis) was a shortstop who played all or parts of three seasons for the Washington Senators and Chicago White Sox from 1919 to 1925.  The 20th century Ike Davis only compiled 732 plate appearances in the big leagues, but despite his lack of power (no home runs) and low batting average (.235), he found other ways to help his team win.

After Ike Davis Version 1.0 played in eight games for the 1919 Senators and ten games for the 1924 White Sox, he was named the Pale Hose's starting shortstop in 1925.  In his only year as a full-time player, 20th century Ike reached base 213 times in 146 games, collecting 135 hits, drawing 71 bases on balls and absorbing seven HBPs.  Old Man Davis also scored 105 runs in 1925, ripped 31 doubles and nine triples, and picked up 40 sacrifice hits while stealing 19 bases.

If you look at the American League leaderboard for 1925, you will find Davis' name everywhere.  He finished in the league's top ten in plate appearances (8th), runs scored (8th), walks (10th), stolen bases (4th), hit by pitch (8th) and sacrifice hits (2nd).  He wasn't just a good handler of the bat.  He also finished in the league's top ten in various defensive categories.  Davis had 472 assists at shortstop (2nd in the A.L.), made 313 putouts at short (3rd) and led the league with 97 double plays turned.  (He also committed a league-high 53 errors, but have you seen the gloves used by players back in the day?)

The first Ike never played in the majors again after 1925, and played his last game in the minors in 1928.  He then settled in Tucson, Arizona, where he lived until he passed away in 1984, three years before Isaac Benjamin Davis was born.

Ike B. Davis has played all or parts of four seasons for the New York Mets from 2010 to 2013.  After a promising rookie season in which he hit .271 with 19 homers and 71 RBI, Ike II got off to a wonderful start in 2011, batting .302 with seven homers and 25 RBI in 36 games before a fluke on-field injury cut his season short.

Since returning from his injury in 2012, Ike Davis Version 2.0 has been a shadow of his former self.  Although he did hit 32 homers and drove in 90 runs in 2012, Davis batted only .227 and struck out 141 times in 519 at-bats.  He's been even worse in 2013, managing a .143 batting average with four homers, nine RBI and 53 whiffs in 147 at-bats.  Combining his 2012 and 2013 seasons, Old Man (Before His Time) Davis has batted .209 with a .291 on-base percentage, striking out 194 times in 666 at-bats, while collecting only 139 hits.

The current Ike Davis has rarely appeared in the league's top ten in any offensive or defensive category.  He was the National League's fifth-leading home run hitter in 2012 and finished in the league's top ten in double plays turned by a first baseman in 2010 (2nd in the N.L.) and 2012 (4th), but that's pretty much it.

Ike Davis the First had a great season in 1925 but did not play in the majors after his one phenomenal campaign.  Ike Davis the Second has never had a great year by today's standards and is currently in the midst of a historically bad season.

It wouldn't take much for a player to have a better overall career than Isaac Marion Davis.  After all, he only played one full season in the majors and small snippets of two others.  But Isaac Benjamin Davis is on his way to becoming the second-best Ike Davis in major league history.  His current batting average over four seasons (.240) is getting dangerously close to his predecessor's .235 career mark.  And both players now have .324 lifetime on-base percentages.

Prior to the 2012 campaign, the Mets expected Ike Davis to be one of the offensive leaders on the team.  But not only has he failed to become that leader, he might not even be the best Ike Davis in history.  With every strikeout and defensive gaffe, 21st century Ike continues to close the gap between the Davises.  And if he doesn't watch out, the Mets' Ike Davis might just close out his stay in the majors almost as fast as 20th century Ike did.

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