Yu Darvish knows a good hitter when he sees one.
The seven-year veteran RHP has faced some of MLB's best since arriving from Japan in 2012, ranging between the AL with the Texas Rangers (2012-17) and the NL with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2017) and Chicago Cubs (2018-present).
Coming into his third season with the Cubs in 2020, Darvish shared five of his toughest opposing hitters from the 2019 season. J.D. Davis made the cut, evidently leaving Darvish impressed after facing the Mets LF/3B in two games of a breakout year.
"I haven't faced Davis much either, but he's just a very good hitter," Darvish said in a video published Tuesday on his YouTube channel. "He came over from the Astros and had a breakout season once he got more playing time. A lot of you may see him on TV and might not think he's that good, but when I faced him in Spring (Training), I knew right then that he's special and I even told some of my teammates that. In general, he just has a really good eye. You can see right in his face that he's full of confidence and ability. For me, it's a mix of, 'I don't want to face him,' and, 'I can't wait to face him against next time.'"
Darvish was 1-0 with a no-decision in the two starts, the Mets' 5-4 win June 21 and the Cubs' 5-2 revenge Aug. 27. In 13 innings, Darvish allowed five runs on nine hits while striking out 13 and walking three. Although the Davis' solo home run Aug. 27 came in the ninth inning when Darvish was already out of the game after going eight frames, Darvish remembers Davis being a tough out throughout both games.
"When I pitched against him in August in New York, the scouting report was out on his weaknesses, so I was able to get him out," Darvish said. "But even then, his swing and overall presence make you think he's a really exceptional player. Now, in the offseason, I have some people I know over at other clubs and some have asked what I think about J.D. Davis. And when I was writing my text to them, I got goosebumps just thinking about what kind of player he is. I told the person I was texting that I got goosebumps just thinking about him and he laughed and basically replied, 'Yeah, he really is a great player so I just wondered what Yu Darvish thought about him.'"
The 26-year-old Davis slashed .307/.369/.527 with 22 home runs and 57 RBI in 140 with the Mets for a breakout 2019 season after coming over from the Houston Astros. Darvish -- a four-time All-Star pitcher -- saw enough to personally group Davis with the Milwaukee Brewers' Christian Yelich, the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger, the Pittsburgh Pirates' Josh Bell and the Cincinnati Reds' Aristedes Aquino among the best he has faced.
"I don't hear too many people talk about him on Twitter or in the media, but baseball insiders and executives know just how good he is," Darvish said.