Should Ike Davis get regular playing time?

mattmcsports
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With all of the trades that the Athletics have made this offseason, multiple news organizations have been publishing “projected 2015 lineups.” Included in almost every projected lineup is the newly acquired first baseman Ike Davis. But should he be?

Davis was picked up in a trade with Pittsburgh for the A’s international singing slot bonus. The move was basically a salary dump by the Pirates, since Davis will make $3.8 million this year.

When Davis was added, the A’s had a logjam of first basemen and designated hitters with Davis, Billy Butler, Brandon Moss and John Jaso.

But now, with Moss and Jaso traded away, the surplus of 1B/DH types is basically gone. Butler will play almost every day, and Davis and Mark Canha are in line to platoon at first base.

My gut feeling is that the Davis pickup is not going to work out. Don’t get me wrong–Davis should definitely be given a chance to win the first base job, but he shouldn’t be a shoo-in. His struggles offensively and defensively over the last few years worry me.

Davis had a resurgence in Pittsburgh last year after a terrible 2013 with the Mets. But even though Davis had a .344 OBP, his 11 home runs are nowhere near the 32 he had in 2012.

Also, he was horrendous defensively with a -1.5dWAR, dragging his overall WAR down to -0.5.
Maybe I’m just valuing defense too much, but those numbers scare me. Also, who was the last A’s walk-heavy first baseman with a sub-.400 slugging percentage who got regular playing time?

The great Daric Barton.

I know most fans shudder at the mere mention of Barton’s name, and hopefully Davis isn’t the second coming of Barton. The big difference would be the power, but his AB/HR has been about league average over the past couple years, which is not exciting.

Again, this is just my gut feeling, and hopefully Davis has great success in Oakland. Heck, there are plenty of comparisons that can be made to Brandon Moss’s resurgence in 2012. But lightning doesn’t strike twice, and I have a feeling that Davis will continue his recent stretch of overall mediocrity. But if Davis isn’t playing, who takes over his half of the first base platoon?

It’s not sexy, but I’d rather see Sam Fuld, Marcus Semien and Eric Sogard all play against righties. That would shift Coco Crisp to DH (which I’d like to see more of) and would put Zobrist in the outfield.

Overall the lineup against righties would be Coco DH, Ben Zobrist LF, Butler 1B, Josh Reddick RF, Brett Lawrie 3B, Stephen Vogt C, Fuld CF, Semien SS, and Sogard 2B.

That’s a better defensive outfield without Coco’s noodle arm, as all three are now excellent defenders all-around. Even though there’s less power in this lineup than the one with Davis, the team defense is better (Butler is bad, but as good as Davis), the baserunning is better, the batting average is better and there are fewer strikeouts. Also, that difference in power might not be such a big deal if Davis doesn’t rediscover his power stroke.

The A’s have the advantage of having a flexible and deep roster. That flexibility makes no player safe, and if/when someone is struggling or hurt, Melvin can shuffle the lineup and have the struggling guy on the bench. And this doesn’t just apply to Davis. Right now he just seems like the potential weak link in the lineup, but that could just as easily shift to anyone else.

What do you think? Do you believe in Davis? Let me know on twitter @mattmcsports27 or in the comment section below.

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