Saturday, December 29, 2012

50 Years in Cards: 2011

Part 50 of our 50-year Landsman...
What is it: 2011 Topps #290, Ike Davis

What makes it interesting: The design is OK. But just OK. The current era of Topps cards really isn't very special anymore. They appear to use the same design for Baseball and Football cards, take it or leave it. At least the design doesn't overpower the player photo.

Like David Wright, the jury is still out on Ike Davis. The son of bespectacled former American League Pitcher Ron Davis, Ike was a #1 Draft Pick by the Mets in 2008 and projected to be a slugger. After an ill-fated experiment involving Mike Jacobs at 1st Base, Ike arrived with the Mets in Late April. Debuting in #42 for Jackie Robinson night, rather than his regular #29, Ike singled in his first At Bat and later drove home a run. Mets fans were immediately enamored. Later, Ike showed that he was one of the few Mets on the roster who would have no trouble with Citi Field's spacious dimensions when he blasted his first Major League Home Run almost to the Shea Bridge. As it became more and more evident that Ike was a Bona Fide power threat, he was installed as the cleanup hitter by Jerry Manuel despite having only a month's experience in the Major Leagues. This didn't faze him; he made his hits count and by season's end had put together a very respectable rookie season, hitting .264 with 19 Home Runs and 71 RBI, good enough to finish 7th in Rookie of the Year Balloting.

Ike's 2011 season appeared to be off to a blazing start. By early May, he was hitting over .300 and leading the team with 7 Home Runs, many of which were of the tape measure variety, something he had made a regular occurrence. However, misfortune struck in Colorado when he collided with David Wright on a popup, injuring his ankle. Though the Mets medical staff, as they are wont to do, said he'd be back in a couple of weeks, Davis frustratingly ended up missing the remainder of the season with constant setbacks. How good could he have been? We'd have to wait until 2012.

2012 came, and Ike, despite being diagnosed with the mysterious Valley Fever, had a fine Spring Training. But once the season began, he didn't hit anything. For two months, we watched as Ike flailed away at pitches, rarely making solid contact and hitting well below .200. The hot word was that he needed to be sent back to the Minors to figure it out, but many teammates, and his manager came to his defense. Ultimately, they would be rewarded, as Ike found himself in June, and, although he wasn't able to pull his average up to a respectable level, managed to end the year, his first full one in the Majors, with a team-leading 32 Home Runs and 90 RBI. Consider that the majority of his power numbers came after June 1st, and it looks even more impressive. Included in his season were key Home Runs against the Yankees, Orioles and Astros, and a 3-Home Run game in Arizona.

The prevailing thought on Ike is that he's going to be a Dave Kingman-type, who can hit a ton of Home Runs while batting .220. I don't believe this to be true. Given that Ike basically missed an entire season, and then was sick all of Spring Training, it probably made some kind of sense that he'd start slowly. That doesn't make it good, but at least it's sensible. I think Ike Davis is, behind David Wright, probably the best hitter the Mets have in their lineup right now, and it's going to be interesting to see what he can do when he's healthy for a full season. I've said it multiple times, but Ike Davis is the kind of player that the Mets need most: a masher who can hit Home Runs in any ballpark at any moment, even if it's in Citi Field. And, most importantly, Ike is currently the Mets lone Jewish player, the first on the team since Scott Schoeneweis.

Card back:

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