Entering the 2012 season owners had high hopes for two young first baseman in Eric Hosmer and Ike Davis. While the hopes were likely higher for Hosmer, coming of an impressive rookie campaign (while Davis was coming of a season shortened by a freak ankle injury, as well as talk that he was suffering from Valley Fever), the disappointment for the two was similar. As we enter 2013, can we attribute both to sophomore slumps or should we be readjusting our thoughts of them?
Let’s take a look and try to determine who the better option is:
Ike Davis – 32 HR
Eric Hosmer - 14 HR
Hitting for power was the one thing Davis showed he could do last season, still posting a 32 HR campaign despite his other issues. While he did hit more home runs on the road (21) than he did at home (11), that split does not worry me as much as it would’ve under different circumstances.
The dimensions of Citi Field were adjusted to help the hitters in 2012. Plus, over his first two years in the Major Leagues Davis had proven that he could consistently hit the ball out of his home ballpark:
- Home – 13 HR
- Road – 13 HR
If he could hit the ball out of the park when the dimensions were less favorable, why should we have any doubt that he could do so when they are more favorable? Of course, people can point his 2012 HR/FB of 21.1% and say that there is room for regression. However, it is easy to go into 2012 expecting Davis to once again close in (and possibly surpass) on 30 HR.
As for Hosmer, there is a little bit more projecting at work. He as never hit more than 22 HR in a professional season and that came in 2011 (19 in the Majors, 3 at Triple-A). He also needs to have a dramatic shift in the number of balls he puts in the air if he wants to hit for significant power:
- 2011 – 31.7%
- 2012 – 27.9%
Will the number change? You would expect it to, much like it did for Jason Heyward in 2012. That said, given his history and the change that is needed, it is hard to go into 2013 expecting it. I would think 25 HR may be his ceiling, with the potential for him to come in significantly lower than that.
Advantage – Davis
Ike Davis – .227
Eric Hosmer – .232
Davis’ average was epically bad last season, but a lot of it can easily be written off due to poor luck. He finished the year with a 21.1% line drive rate, yet just a .246 BABIP. Those two numbers obviously don’t go hand-in-hand. In fact, he only had one month with a line drive ate below 19%, yet only two months with a BABIP above .227.
He does strike out a lot, but you are going to get that with power hitters. While the .300 he was hitting in 2011 may be a bit much, he hit .255 in the second half of 2012. That’s his floor, and I would actually go into the year expecting more. Seeing him ht .270+, given the ability to hit the ball hard is a fair assessment.
Hosmer, on the other hand, strikes out far less (15.9%), though he doesn’t have the power to help boost his average nor did he hit the ball with as much authority (18.6% for his career). However, like Davis, his meager .232 average can be attributed to his .255 BABIP.
Also like Davis, you would think that an improvement in luck would send him at least into the .270 range. However, unlike Davis, Hosmer is arguably a better pure hitter. While it wouldn’t surprise me if the two were close at the end of the season, Hosmer probably has a slightly higher upside.
Advantage – Close, but Hosmer
Ike Davis – 90
Eric Hosmer – 60
You have to think that, given the lack of power in the Mets lineup, Davis is going to be the cleanup hitter in 2013. While the lineup isn’t tremendously strong, that should lead to ample RBI opportunities (especially with an improved average). As it is he picked up 90 RBI in 2012 and seeing him reach 100 for the first time in his career would not be surprising.
As for Hosmer, his place in the lineup is a lot more tenuous. He doesn’t have the power potential to open the year in the cleanup spot and, given the other young options they have, he could just as easily hit sixth or seventh (294 AB hitting 6th through 8th in ’12). At this point, could anyone really see him having an upside of more than 85?
Advantage – Davis
Ike Davis – 66
Eric Hosmer – 65
It almost goes hand-in-hand with the RBI, as their spot in the order is the difference. Hosmer has more speed than Davis, but if Davis is hitting fourth he should have better hitters behind him than Hosmer will. As it is, Hosmer has never scored more than 66 runs in a season while Davis has scored 73 (back in 2010).
It wouldn’t surprise me if Davis reached 80 this season, depending on what the Mets do this offseason, but at this point neither player is all that enticing.
Advantage – Draw, though Davis probably goes in with a slightly higher projection
Ike Davis – 0
Eric Hosmer – 16
This isn’t close, and it does help close the overall gap in Hosmer’s favor. Davis isn’t going to steal bases, while Hosmer has reached double digits in each of his first two years (16 in 2012). It’s a rather big edge…
Advantage – Hosmer
Does Hosmer’s upside and ability to steal bases make him a better option than Davis? I actually don’t think so. Players who hit 30+ HR are not as common as they once were, so when you couple that with similar averages and the potential for over 100 RBI, I would actually prefer Davis for the 2013 season.
That’s not to say that Hosmer isn’t a good option and could potentially outperform Davis. However, a first baseman who could easily hit under .300 with fewer than 20 HR just isn’t something that is attractive. Even with speed, it’s not enough to close the gap.
Make sure to check out all of our extremely early 2013 rankings: