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2021 New York Mets: Why JD Davis Won’t Man Third Base

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The 2021 New York Mets will head into opening day with J.D. Davis penciled in at third base, however, after an offseason rife with rumors of the Mets bringing in a third baseman, Davis’ role is far from certain.

2021 New York Mets: JD Davis’ Mixed Results

In early 2019, the Mets acquired young power bat J.D. Davis from the Astros in a relatively low-profile trade. Davis’ role was uncertain going into the 2019 season, but he excelled as a right-handed power threat. While the Mets didn’t have much of a place to play him in the field, his 136 wRC+ demanded they find a position for him. Management tried Davis at both third base and left field, but he posted -7 outs above average in left, and near average numbers at third.

Despite the poor defense, his bat found him a consistent role in 2020, this time with more time at third than in left. However, in this extended look, he was markedly below average at both positions. More important than this, his hitting ability declined to a 117 wRC+.

In 453 PA in 2019, Davis posted a solid 2.4 WAR, however, in more than half that number of PAs in 2020, he accrued only 0.5 WAR. Looking forward, it is unclear what the Mets have in Davis. With his 2019 offense, he is at least an average third baseman. Though if his real offensive value is somewhere closer to his 2020 numbers, he isn’t far from replacement level. This leaves the Mets and Davis in an uncertain situation heading into the season. If his bat doesn’t start out strong, manager Luis Rojas could quickly find himself exploring other options.

2021 New York Mets: Hot Corner Alternatives

This has a contingent of Mets fans clamoring for an increase in Luis Guillorme‘s playing time. Guillorme is a known defensive whiz, who has shown at least some potential with the bat. It’s certainly a possibility that Guillorme with average offense is more valuable than Davis’ bat with unplayable defense.

Guillorme is doing his best to challenge Davis, so far posting a .954 OPS in limited action. Especially considering the groundball-oriented pitchers the Mets have in Marcus Stroman and David Peterson, Guillorme may well be a better option than Davis.

While a Davis/McNeil/Lindor/Alonso alignment is probably in the lower half of the league defensively, that of McNeil/Lindor/Guillorme/Alonso could be one of the best in the league with maybe the most exciting double-play combination.

2021 New York Mets: Trade Deadline Acquisitions

The Mets management is clearly aware of Davis’ shortcomings as well, considering the various trade rumors connecting them to Nolan Arenado, Eugenio Suarez, and Kris Bryant in recent months. In press conferences, they also shied away from naming Davis the starting third baseman.

While no trades materialized over the winter, Suarez and Bryant are still available heading into the season. In the messiest division in baseball, there’s a good chance either the Reds or Cubs will find themselves out of contention come July. Especially in the case of Bryant, the Cubs could be mid-collapse and looking to sell any impending free agents. If neither Guillorme nor Davis step up, the Mets could acquire Bryant and potentially become the best offense in baseball.

2021 New York Mets: Heading into the Regular Season

For a picture of how the front office views Davis, the Mets are still trying to find a replacement or backup options, as they were just this week connected to free agent, Maikel Franco.

While Guillorme and others are looking to challenge, barring a major shift Davis will be starting on opening day. That said, he’ll be on a short leash, and a few errors or a slow start could have him losing playing time fast.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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David Murtha is an MLB writer covering the New York Mets as well as general baseball news. He is a lifelong Mets fan born and raised in Queens. He is also currently a student at Stony Brook University studying biology, and has previously written for other online publications.