Pittsburgh Pirates: What did they get in Ike Davis?

Follow me on Twitter @jim_krug; opening image credit dailystache.

Some thoughts following a surprisingly early-season trade by the Pittsburgh Pirates to land 1B Ike Davis from the New York Mets.

1.  Props to GM Neal Huntington for quickly realizing the Travis Ishikawa/Gaby Sanchez platoon wasn’t working, although like the majority of Pirates’ fans, Huntington should’ve discerned that over the offseason, instead of handing a career journeyman in Ishikawa the majority of starts at the biggest power position on the diamond for a team trying fiercely to defend its 94-win season of a year ago.

That didn’t last long; image credit AP

As I wrote here, Ishikawa actually looked very solid during the Opening Series of 2014, and were he able to continue having productive ABs, the Pirates could’ve kept 1B cobbled together until trade talks heated up in July.  But since then, the former San Francisco Giant fell off a statistical cliff, and is down to a .646 OPS (81 OPS+).

2.  We don’t know who the player-to-be-named (PTBNL) is yet, but as long as it isn’t a prospect of significance, this is a good deal for the Pirates.  AAA RP Zack Thornton- so far the only piece given up for Davis- boasts a very solid career statline of 18-10, 3.18 ERA, and 10.0 K/9.  But minor league relievers are quite literally a dime-a-dozen, and at the age of 26 already, his ceiling seems to be that of a mid-innings bullpen arm.  Again- as long as the PTBNL isn’t a great prospect- it’s frankly surprising that the Mets held onto Davis for so long, only to settle for such a weak return.

Image credit Pittsburgh.cbslocal

3.  So what type of bat did the Pirates just land?  It’s frankly anyone’s guess, as Ike Davis’s 4-year+ career has been a veritable garden of sample sizes.

*He’s hit as high as .308 during a 36-game stint in 2011, but has a .241 career BA.

*Davis has a career-high 32 HR in 2012, but that also came with the tradeoff of a career low .308 OBP, 26 points below his career rate.

*Davis boasts a career .828 OPS platoon split against RHP.  Coupled with Gaby Sanchez’s .898 OPS against LHP, the *potential* is certainly there for a productive firstbaseman between the two of them.  Manager Clint Hurdle was probably frisky all last night, thinking about the ways he can micromanage this platoon action.

Jones; image credit SI

4.  Here are the best two Pirate comps I think we may have in Davis.  On a career note, Davis is basically former 1B/OF Garrett Jones.

Jones career:  .771 OPS, 110 OPS+
Davis career: .767 OPS, 112 OPS+

However, if you look only at Davis’s last two seasons- where he struggled to reach base below his career .334 OBP- he might be a hitter similar to current 3B Pedro Alvarez.

Alvarez career:  .233 BA, .305 OBP, .444 SLG
Davis 2011 and 2012:  .218 BA, .315 OBP, .411 SLG

Alvarez; image credit crabcakesports

In fact, Davis’s and Alvarez’s career lines are both fairly similar (WAR = wins above replacement-level player):

Alvarez:  .233 BA, .305 OBP, .444 SLG, .749 OPS, 107 OPS+, 4.9 WAR
Davis:  .241 BA, .334 OBP, .433 SLG, .767 OPS, 112 OPS+, 5.9 WAR

5.  So if you’re only looking at his recent work, the Pirates probably landed a slightly weaker hitter than Alvarez- which isn’t a terrible thing, considering the small prospect return to the Mets so far.  If you look at the career body, their bodies of work are very similar.  And Davis appears to be a dead ringer for current Miami Marlin Garrett Jones, who used to man the 1B platoon (and chip in some OF starts) with Sanchez.

So will adding another Garrett Jones/Pedro Alvarez-esque player to the fold be the cure that ails the Pirates’ current lineup?  Only time will tell.  Thanks for reading!

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  • vinnie12

    Who knows! He may just take off this season and hit 25 hr’s and bat .250 !
    That would be great for the Pirates.