With the additions of Ike Davis and Billy Butler to the Oakland roster this offseason, the A’s seem to have their main options for a DH/first base platoon set for 2015. While Butler is the more established player at the plate, Davis has some power potential that this Oakland lineup seems to be missing at the moment. So who will have a better 2015? Let’s discuss.
Ike Davis’ breakout year came in 2012 when he went deep 32 times and drove in 90. The downside of that year came in the form of his .227 batting average, which hasn’t improved much in the two years since. While exhibiting a power stroke will help soothe some of the woes that a low average brings, without providing home runs for this team, Davis could be a bust. So why the heck did Billy Beane grab him? Well, it didn’t cost much for starters. Just an international signing slot, or the equivalent of a few hundred thousand dollars. The other reason?
How often? His career mark is at .336, but last season he was on base at a .344 clip with the Mets and Pirates. While it’s not an elite mark, it’s still better than the .334 mark that Brandon Moss put up. Can Davis put up 25 homers and 81 rbi like Moss did? It’s possible, and if he does so it’ll be without striking out as much. This is a potential genius move by Billy.
Country Breakfast Billy Butler is a career .295 hitter that has shown flashes of power over his career. However, over the past two seasons Butler has hit a combined 24 dingers. While many will be clamoring for more power from a player that is likely to play the majority of his games as the designated hitter, Butler can provide value without hitting the ball over the fence.
Last season, Butler turned in a career-low .323 on-base percentage as well as showing a decline in his power numbers. Fans in Oakland are hoping that Butler is ready for a rebound season, and that this isn’t another $10M contract that we can point to as the downfall of humanity.
So who will have the bigger 2015? While Butler has shown signs of decline, and is a year older than Ike Davis, my decision will come down to a technicality. While both players will be involved in a platoon, Butler will have more opportunities at the plate the way I see it. While Coco Crisp and others may take some days at DH, Butler could slide over to first base and get his at-bats there, which would push Davis to the bench.
Nate Freiman is another candidate for a slew of at-bats throughout the course of the season, so Davis, while garnering the majority of the playing time at first, may not have the number of opportunities that Butler has over the course of the season. With Butler’s high batting average and propensity for doubles (38 per 162 games), the likelihood of driving in a runner with a base hit is higher for Butler, so he gets the nod from me.
I am excited to see what both of these players can do in their new colors. Opening Day cannot come soon enough!