Is Ike Davis Better Than Dave Cameron Thinks?

Fangraphs asks, "Could Ike Davis Be Better than We Think?" Hmm...it depends--who is included in "we"? If Mark Himmelstein and Keith Hernandez are included in that collective first-person, then the answer is "no, almost certainly not." 

But as someone who reads Fangraphs pointed out to me, "we" is obviously here Dave Cameron, who sort of dissed Ike in a recent chat, calling him Lyle Overbay:

I haven't seen anything to suggest that my assessment of him as a guy who is okay-at-everything-and-great-at-nothing is wrong. He walks some, hits for some power, strikes out some, and plays okay defense. That's Lyle Overbay.

Personally, I've never gotten the Overbay comparison and "walks some, hits for some power, strikes out some, and plays okay defense" describes nearly every hitter ever, including me in Little League. But I get what he's saying--Davis is about as good as he's going to be right now. Fair enough. 

But back to the original article--there's a reason I generally don't read Fangraphs posts this time of year. They tend to follow a certain formula*:

  1. Spending way to many words to say "sample size makes all statistics irrelevant"
  2. Mention everything that happened to the player in his career up to now
  3. Mention statistics anyway
  4. Vague scouting report, akin to cold reading the player  
  5. ???
  6. Cerronesque "I coud go either way, what do you guys think?" conclusion

*Disclaimer: I have been turned down for a job at FanGraphs countless times, but it is purely for a good troll, not out of spite, that I am having a go here.

Unfortunately, the afore-linked article has many of the same problems. (But what are you going to do on a stats site that posts 100 times a day, months before the stats matter?) Here's the main points:

  1. Ike has had less swinging strikes.
  2. He's gotten behind in the count less.
  3. Joey Votto is also a firstbaseman, who wasn't great in the minors, but became great in the majors. 

Immediately suspicious of #2, I checked it out and sure enough baseball-reference has him falling behind in the count slightly more this season. So scratch that. As for #1, his swinging strike%, it has dropped from 9.7% to 8.1%. Is that significant? Is the sample size big enough? I have no idea. 

Finally, the Votto-comp seems a little strange. He and Ike are both left-handed and tall, but mechanical-opposites. Ike Davis generates his power from a long, loopy swing. Votto uses his squatty, muscular arms to flick the bat through the zone, giving him better recovery time on pitches. Votto will always hit for higher average. 

Personally, I enjoy the unknowing of Ike's future--that's half the fun of watching him. For while Ike may look like Lyle Overbay, field like Lyle Overbay, and smell like Lyle Overbay, Lyle Overbay never hit 500-foot homeruns. Ike has more raw power than any Met I've ever seen--he was a top 5 player in homerun distance last season. If he better learns the strike zone, he can be great, much better than "we" think. 

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