The Mets Core Four? J. D. Davis is quietly joining a contingent of Mets forming a run-producing offense leading well into the next decade…
When J.D. Davis came over to the Mets in a trade with the Houston Astros last winter, it barely caused a ripple of print among the moves made by GM Brodie Van Wagenen during the offseason.
Playing only a handful of games for the talent-laden Astros in the 2017-18 seasons, Davis was let go for three low to mid-level prospects, Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana, all of whom are still in the minors.
Almost an afterthought in Spring Training and the early part of the 2019 season, Davis appeared to be blocked at his two former positions. Pete Alonso and Todd Frazier were penciled in at first and third base respectively, and with Mickey Callaway desperately trying to find playing time for Dominic Smith and Jeff McNeil, Davis remained on the outside looking in.
A Door Opens For J.D. Davis
An injury to Frazier opened things up a bit, allowing Davis a chance to appear in 31 games at third base. Seen as a plus-bat in the lineup, Callaway opened things up even more by experimenting with Davis in the outfield, where he has played during the Mets two consecutive wins over the Braves and Yankees. Quietly, Davis is putting together a productive season for the Mets.
Delivering a five for nine eruption of production in those games, including a home run and three RBI, J.D. Davis is slowly but surely sending a “Hey, look at me” message not only to Callaway but to Mets fans as well.
As a strapping 6’5″ 225 lb young man, Davis appears to be reaching only the first stages of power production. But his .820 OPS (the league average is .748) signals his overall value to the Mets offense. The same is true for his offensive W.A.R., which now stands at 1.3, compared to a -0.3 during his two years with Houston. (Source: Baseball Reference)
But perhaps the brightest hope for the Mets is that J.D. Davis can join Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto to form a Core Four for the team which can carry well into the next decade.
Last night, Callaway’s lineup brazenly moved Davis into the three spot while demoting Robinson Cano to the five hole. Davis responded with a booming home run off James Paxton to account for the Mets first two runs in a 4-2 win over the Yankees. (In-Game Highlights Video)
In the same game, Conforto was dropped to seventh in the lineup by Callaway. Conforto, frustrated twice by grounding into two double-plays, responded with a ringing double to account for the decisive two runs in the game.
Perhaps after hearing from those above, last night Callaway had Cano back in his familiar spot in the lineup and batting third. J.D. Davis took a seat on the bench in favor of Dominic Smith in left field and Todd Frazier got the start at third base.
Maybe, just maybe, Smith and Frazier are being showcased for trades in the making. Frazier is an extra veteran piece any contending team would desire. And Dominic Smith’s value will probably never be higher than it is now. With either or both out of the Mets picture, the future for Davis and the Mets gets brighter.
Even if Van Wagenen forces Callaway to sandwich Cano between McNeil leading off, followed by Alonso, with Conforto and Davis after Cano, the Mets lineup takes on a new and positive look.
A Mets Core Four: Let It Happen
But the real key for the future is having the Core Four batting successively in the lineup, with Cano dropped down to no higher than sixth. Except for McNeil who is the quintessential lead-off batter, Callaway can juggle the other three depending on the pitcher the Mets are facing.
But at all costs, the Core Four needs the opportunity to play together as a team within the team. Whether it’s putting together a string of hit to give the Mets an early lead or leading a late-inning rally, these guys need a chance to make it happen and to see it work.
And for that matter, so do we.