All throughout the offseason, it seemed one area the Mets were focused on upgrading was third base. Rumors continually surrounded the team and J.D. Davis in particular seemed to be available in a trade. Ultimately nothing materialized and the only other third baseman the Mets added to the roster was Jonathan Villar.
Coming out of spring training, J.D. Davis was penciled in as the team’s third baseman. Throughout his short career with the Mets, Davis has always hit but questions continued to surround him with his play in the field. The addition of Francisco Lindor and his elite glove at shortstop held some promise since Davis could learn from him and Lindor could potentially cover any of his limitations.
With the odd start to the season between the COVID postponements and the bad weather, the team got off to a sluggish start at the plate but Davis did not. He was one of the few Mets with a productive month of April, finishing the month hitting .410/.500/.619 with an OPS of 1.141 and a ridiculous wRC+ of 210 in thirty-nine at bats.
Then the injuries started. Early in April, he was hit by a pitch on the hand in a game against the Phillies. The Mets initially got some good news when the X-rays came back negative, but he was still placed on the injured list. He returned to the IL in May when he hurt his left wrist on a swing. While attempting to rehab his way back to the team, an MRI found some inflammation, and he did not make it back into the majors until July.
Adding insult to injury, the Mets fired his beloved hitting coach Chili Davis, whom he had given a lot of credit to in the past for his success at the plate. He also spent the offseason working out with Davis while preparing for the 2021 season.
Despite returning to the lineup with a bang and hitting two home runs in one game against the Pirates, Davis was never the same impact bat at the plate. In the second half of the year, he hit just .248/.352/.380 with a OPS of .731, although he still managed to be productive as a pinch-hitter. He ended the season batting .429/.455/.571 when pinch-hitting but in September he essentially lost the third base job to Jonathan Villar. Whether that was due to Villar’s play at third or Davis’s limitations from his injury that never fully healed, Davis rarely saw time at the hot corner when the team was in free fall, and he eventually found his way back on the injured list at the end of the year.
Perhaps it was with good reason he never saw the field. Despite his best efforts, he still had a -7 DRS at the hot corner and just wasn’t able to improve enough in the field to not be a liability.
Overall, it was a tumultuous season for the 28-year-old, but he still managed to put up respectable numbers. He hit .285/.384/.436 and was worth 1.6 fWAR after playing in just 73 games in 2021.
When the season ended, Davis underwent hand surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left hand, but his future with the team is very much in doubt. Both Jonathan Villar and Javier Báez are free agents, but both have expressed interest in returning to the club. Kris Bryant is also a free agent, so the team certainly has options if they want to upgrade the position for 2022. Whether they move on completely from Davis or keep him around as a productive bench bat is up to the next general manager to decide.