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Ike Davis plans to bunt more often

Jul 24, 2013, 1:39 AM EDT

Ike Davis, Marvin Hudson AP

Mets first baseman Ike Davis attempted to bunt for a base hit in the bottom of the second inning with one out and the bases empty and his team down 1-0. He was facing an infield shift, so his thought was to drop a bunt down the third base line for an easy infield single, but instead, he bunted right back to Braves starter Kris Medlen for the 1-3 putout. The crowd of nearly 25,000 at Citi Field booed Davis as he walked back to the dugout.

Davis is used to the booing, though, and defended his decision to bunt when speaking to the media after the game. Via ESPN’s Adam Rubin:

Power hitters don’t normally bunt, but Davis said he plans to try doing it more this again.

“I mean, I get out a lot anyway, so might as well give it a try,” Davis said, with a wry smile. “If I get it down in the right spot, it’s a hit. I’m definitely gonna try to do that more often.”

“Ike’s just trying to get on base,” Collins said. “And I will tell you, he’s gonna see [the shift] again, and if you wanna bunt, go ahead and bunt.”

Davis has had an awful season. Tonight’s 1-for-4 performance actually bumped his batting average up to .178 but his OPS is still a disappointing .531. The only players in baseball with a worse OPS (min. 200 plate appearances) are Brendan Ryan of the Mariners (.521) and teammate Ruben Tejada (.529).

Davis was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas after going 0-for-3 on June 9. In 21 games under 51s manager Wally Backman, Davis hit .293 with a 1.091 OPS. He was recalled after going 3-for-4 on July 3. Between his return to the Majors on July 5 and prior to today’s game, Davis posted a .257/.381/.286 line. The on-base percentage is nice, but a .286 slugging percentage is far below what is expected even from a below-average first baseman (the average first baseman in the NL has slugged .415). Bunting isn’t going to help that.

  1. quintjs - Jul 24, 2013 at 3:09 AM

    I actually don’t have a problem with a guy bunting every now and again (i.e. rarely) to beat the shift – it at least keeps people on their toes.

    “I mean, I get out a lot anyway, so might as well give it a try” might well however be the least encouraging quote of the year.

    • halejon - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      Hence the wry smile…c’mon, everyone knows it and he’s trying to be funny instead of hanging his head and pouting. Man, it must be exhausting to be one of the top 200 or so in the world at what you do, but instead of being applauded and respected like you would be in every other field, you have to constantly be dour and sad and accept people telling you how terrible you are, and if you try to have a little fun or just lighten up the mood a little everyone recoils in horror like you don’t care and aren’t trying.

  2. alexo0 - Jul 24, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    Any time someone mentions how awesome Davis was in AAA, they’re always sure to give the credit to Wally Backman. Clearly Backman is a Davis-Whisperer, which is why is baffles me that the Mets didn’t call him up along with Davis to keep his skills sharp.

    I refuse to believe that Davis is simply an awful hitter who was able to take advantage of the extremely hitting friendly conditions in the minors. The Mets refuse to believe this as well.

  3. b453841l - Jul 24, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    He might as well do it with 2 strikes, because his k rate can’t get much worse…

  4. adantsa - Jul 24, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    What is with HBT’s obsession with Ike Davis? Are you trolling us?

  5. tbutler704 - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    Ike Davis has the best looking softball swing ever.

  6. bobulated - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    I think I’m more bothered that Collins is down with this.

  7. rathipon - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    This is smart baseball folks. The shift costs some guys around 20-30 hits a year – up to 50 points on their batting average (see Teixeira’s stats after they started shifting him). If you could drop a successful bunt against the shift just 50% of the time would you not take that .500 batting average?? If you keep doing that, eventually they will stop shifting on you, and you’ll get more conventional hits.

    • halejon - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      True — even if it doesn’t work all that often, forcing the defence to defend against it could easily make it worth it. Heck, for him 1/3 attempts working or a lack of shift, both would be terrific results. Game theory, kids.

  8. grumpyoleman - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    I doubt most coaches want their power hitters dropping bunts to get on base. Bunting is not quite as easy as you make it seem to be either. I would highly doubt someone like Adam Dunn is going to get to first 50% of the time under this scenario.

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