Monday afternoon at Citi Field, J.D. Davis approached his at bats against Marlins’ pitching as he always does and in the DH role that can be difficult. The universal DH has kept him in the Mets lineup and he’s adjusted to not playing on the field.
He is now a Mets veteran since coming over from the Houston Astros in 2019, and is always the subject of trade talk as advanced scouts take notes at the ballpark and log his at bats. There is the movement and bat speed they observe with the trade deadline still a month and a half away.
They look at the numbers. Davis leads baseball with a 64.0 percent hard hit rate and ranks seventh in the majors in average exit velocity (94.0 MPH). He came into the Marlins series finale hitting .333 with four doubles, a home run, eight RBI, and 12 runs scored in his last 21 games.
Those numbers define persistence and hard work ethic. In other words, J.D. Davis keeps grinding with his at bats in that unaccustomed role as the regular DH. Few have adjusted to the role in their careers. Many are the longtime veterans that no longer play the field and Nelson Cruz is a good example.
But Davis (29) is much younger than Cruz while also compared to many others in that DH role. He can still play the field and the Mets have seen some outstanding plays at third base with some occasional starts in the outfield.
Though, now, it has been more playing time and staying prepared before his at bats. The DH needs to take swings in the cage steps away from the Mets clubhouse as each inning progresses. The DH needs to remain focused for that next at bat.
“Long period of a week or two, I was wearing myself out in games,” Davis explained. “I felt I wasn’t fully warmed up. I have a routine now. Stay on the treadmill between innings. I don’t wear myself out swinging down there.”
He stays focused and ready for the next at bat. It’s the only way to stay in the game while taking part in the pre-game hitter’s meetings to get a read on the opposing pitchers.
Lifetime against the Marlins, the Davis slashline: 340/ .449/.534, second in average, fourth in OBP. eighth in slugging and fifth in OPS versus Miami since 2019.
Monday, Davis reached base on a walk and later scored one of the Mets six runs on a perfect slide off an Eduardo Escobar sacrifice fly. Marlins starter Trevor Rogers struck him out two times on nasty four-seam fastballs.
Then, in the 8th inning, Showalter and the Mets watched as Davis was hit in the left hand, the 50th Mets player hit this season to lead the majors. There is a concern because Davis was in pain and during the offseason had surgery to repair a torn ligament on the same hand.
Showalter said initial X-rays were negative and there will be further evaluation as the Mets embarked on a road trip to Houston and Miami.
“He works hard and grinds, and you have to admire that,” Showalter commented when I asked him about Davis and his consistency to hit the ball hard.
You ask the scouts and they say Davis is a valued commodity with the DH role vital for teams. He is grinding it out in this new role with a Mets team that observes his hard work and consistency. The Mets as a team continue to grind out runs as they did Monday afternoon taking three of four from the Marlins.
This is a Mets team that continues to lead the National League in runs scored.
“I mean, I’ve said this… I’ve been on the trading block since 201t when I was with the Astros,” Davis said this weekend at Citi Field. “I’ve grown under it. If it happens it happens, sure enough in 2019 it did. Otherwise there is nothing I can control except going out there and keep playing hard .”
He smiles and appreciates the support of manager Buck Showalter, not to say that two previous managers he played for with the Mets failed to offer encouragement, but this is Buck who has a way.
“A lot of veteran guys on here,” he said. “Buck has a lot to do with it. He’s kept us on the train tracks, motivated and determined to keep winning games and series.”
And there is this attitude about the DH role because J.D Davis accepts the challenge and is a natural hitter.
“I don’t mind it,” he said about his role. “I wish I can contribute more but my best asset is hitting. It keeps me locked in the game. You’re in the lineup, you can’t complain that much.”
It is the role of a DH and grinding it out.
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