Lost a bit in the shuffle of the Mets' 2019 season has been the remarkably consistent performance of J.D. Davis.
Acquired by Brodie Van Wagenen in the offseason for three prospects, Davis' path to playing time initially seemed blocked at the big league level.
His primary position of third base was covered by Todd Frazier. Davis played some first base with the Astros, but with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith at first base in New York, that wasn't going to happen, either. His outfield experience only consisted of five games in left field in 2018, but that has increased with 30 games in left this season.
While Davis' versatility in the field offers Mickey Callaway a bunch of ways to slot him in the lineup, let's be clear: the 6'3", 225-pound Davis isn't in the lineup as a utility man. He's never going to be above-average in the field at third or left, so if he's going to play, he's got to hit. And his FanGraphs-rated 70-grade raw power tool is the same grade as Aaron Judge and a tick below Alonso's 80-grade raw power, so Davis definitely came into the season expected to mash.
And boy, has he mashed. Davis entered Thursday hitting .298/.365/.478 with 10 homers and 12 doubles in 90 games, and he's been consistent the whole time.
Aside from a slow May, Davis has hit over .300 and posted an OPS over .880 every other month this season. League-wide, Davis is in the top eight percent of Major League hitters in exit velocity and hard-hit rate. He was particularly on point in July, a month where he hit .373/.448/.569 in 18 games.
Saturday night's Mets win embodied everything that Davis has done this season. After sitting the day before, Davis clearly wasn't comfortable against Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams' fastball early on. However, Davis made an adjustment and subsequently smacked two hits, including a two-run homer.
"I'm a guy that does my homework," Davis told reporters after the game. "That first at-bat, 1-0, I thought he was going to come with the slider or something offspeed, just doing my homework and seeing his tendencies. But he blew a fastball by me. I think that kind of set myself up in the later part, and I kept note of that in the back of my head that he thinks he can beat me with the fastball."
Williams didn't beat him with the heat for the rest of the game. It was a prime example of the professional hitter that Davis can be. He thrived in part-time duty earlier this season, Davis thinks that receiving more regular reps should help him to get even more comfortable.
"When I don't play, I get two or three days off and then I come back in and the first two at-bats, it's more about getting my timing down and really not being aggressive in those situations to see pitches," Davis said. "When you're playing every day, it's a little bit easier. It's a little easier on the mind knowing the fact you're in the lineup the next day, or at least your timing is there every day."
With Smith out with a foot injury and Frazier likely gone via free agency after the 2019 season, Davis will likely be a regular for the rest of 2019 and could be a starter entering 2020.
Although Davis called the current opportunity "bittersweet" because he's good friends with Smith, Davis has hit all season long and patiently waited for a chance at everyday play. And if he keeps hitting, he has the chance the chance to become a fixture in Queens.