J.D. Davis is coming off a disappointing season in 2020. His right handed bat didn’t provide the offense he needs to be valuable for a team. We all know Davis isn’t the world best defender, which makes his production with the bat that much more important. With that in mind, a .247/.371/.389 slash isn’t going to cut it. Main question: Can the drop in offense be explained?
Let’s dig deeper into Davis 2020 offensive season. Davis hit just 6 homers and 9 doubles over 56 games. That’s the main drop in his production, the drop of power. The main difference I spotted was his performance against breaking pitches. In the below breakdown you can see his expected slash line against the curve and slider:
As you can see that’s a huge drop off and it shows in his Runs Value stat. In 2019 Davis had a RV of 8 against the Slider, which dropped to minus 2 in 2020. He also had a major drop in this stat against the sinker, showing his lack of pitch recognition took a toll. However, on the 4 seamer his run value was one higher than 2019, showing he didn’t lose bat speed.
Davis also had a more of a difficult time against the off-speed pitch. His whiff rate increased by 12.6%. This back up my point about his lack of pitch recognition.
Another main issue in Davis his 2020 season is his lack of launch angle. In 2019 he had a total positive launch angle of 33, which dropped to a skinny 4 in 2020. Keith Hernandez always mentions that Davis puts the ball to all fields. Here is a reason Davis shouldn’t. Davis thrives when hitting the ball in the air. His hard hit rate was still very good, he just didn’t hit the ball in the air enough in 2020. Please Keith, stop with the old school approach and let JD do what he does best! Hit the ball hard AND in the air.
I don’t think JD is done. Like I mentioned his hard hit rate was still solid. He just needs to re-adjust to his 2019 approach. Lack of pitch recognition could be a result off the strange COVID year and him not being able to have a normal spring. However his lack of launch angle is something he can and should adjust too, to become a top hitter again.
Photo from New York Mets