Alex was kind enough to offer his take on Mets prospect Ike Davis in the form of a guest post. Hope you all enjoy it.
Hey guys, my name is Alex Eisenberg and I run the website Baseball-Intellect. Long story short, I have a background in Kinesiology and biomechanics and at my site I breakdown player mechanics and combine traditional scouting methods with sabermetric analysis to evaluate players.
Right now, I'm publishing each team's top-15 prospect list and I recently published the Mets top prospect list (click here to see Prospects 1 - 5 and click here to see Prospects 6 - 15). However, I wanted to share my report on Ike Davis with some of the Mets' more avid fans.
I did a "Breaking Down the Draft" series for the Hardball Times in 2008 and in that series, I did a write-up on Davis.
As I watched Davis at Arizona State, the bottom line for me was that Davis' swing was too handsy...not enough lower body involvement, not enough use of the hips. There wasn't a lot of power coming from that swing. And the numbers reflected this in his debut season:
Bold number is Davis' slugging percentage. That comes out to an ISO-power of .071, which is pathetic for a first baseman. I think the adjustment to pro ball made things worse for Davis, but still, something needed to be done.
So Davis, humbled by the struggles of his first pro season, re-tooled his swing.
The first set of graphics come from the center field camera with the one on the left shot during Davis' time in Brooklyn and the one on the right shot during Davis' stint in Binghamton last year. The angles are different, but we can still see some key differences. The graphics are synchronized to contact but if the loop separates from one another, trying refreshing the browser
The second set of graphics from the side view come from Davis' draft video at Arizona State (on the left) and Davis last year in the AFL (on the right). Credit to Toby Hyde of Mets Minor League Blog for the most recent clip of Davis.
Now let's go over some of the adjustments made by Davis...
1. The 2009 version starts out with a little more bend in his knees, while his legs are more spread apart in his draft video. It also looks like he's holding his hands just slightly higher in 2009 as well.
2. The stride...the 09' version sways back a little before striding forward in an effort to build up some momentum. From the point where Davis first starts his stride, the 09' version finds himself in a much more athletic position than the 08' version. He's in a position where it's much easier for him to powerfully drive forward, which he proceeds to do in the form of a long stride. He's also in a position where he's better able to adjust to the ball in mid flight.
The 08' version doesn't really take a stride...he takes more of a small step instead. Davis ended up swinging off his front foot, which caused him to get too far out in front at times.
3. Simultaneous to the lower body work, Davis is also loading his hands differently. Notice the difference between the angle of the bat and position of the hands. As Davis loads his hands in 08', the bat angle doesn't change. And he lowers his hands only to the level of his upper chest. Contrast that with Davis in 09' where he drops his hands down to almost the level of his stomach.
Overall, the swing is longer. His new loading process -- because it's deeper and more aggressive -- creates much more power than his old one.
But it also changes the swing's path. Take note of where Davis' bat makes its first aggressive move forward. What Davis has done is given his hands a longer path to travel. He's able to keep his hands back and turn his hips and hands together on a firm front leg, which is a big driving force behind a hitter's power.
So what impact did some of these changes have on Davis' overall numbers?
The whole set up with more bend in the legs, a longer stride...that gave Davis a lot more leverage, which resulted in more fly balls and less ground balls than the year before.
The contact made by Davis was harder than before. But his strikeouts also increased in part because of the length he added to his swing. However, he should stick with what's working for now.
Davis has pretty good plate coverage -- I've seen him make good contact by pulling pitchers on the outside corner of the plate -- but he becomes pull happy at times and he ends up rolling over. He has to work on his approach and make better use of the entire field.
Also, while Davis crushed right handed pitching, lefties baffled him. His lefty/right splits were enormous (1.000 OPS vs. RHP, .672 OPS vs. LHP).
Davis is regarded as a potentially plus defender at first base. He's rather agile with good hands though he's a below average runner.
Best Case Outcome - Above average everyday first baseman
More Likely Outcome - More of an average everyday first baseman...I remind you of the kind of numbers one must put up to be considered an even average first baseman. A worst case scenario would be that Davis proves unable to hit left handed pitching on a consistent basis and has to be platooned with a right handed bat. But that's much more than most predicted of Davis entering the 2009 season.