Former Twin and current Mets ace knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has been the surprise comeback story of the year in the National League, if not the majors. But he is getting a good run for his money from the second-half numbers turned in by a teammate, Ike Davis.
Davis, the Edina-born son of former Twins reliever Ron Davis, has some of the worst batting-average based stats of any regular in major-league baseball. But as bad as his .224 batting average and .299 on-base percentage are, they are nothing compared with the hole he was in earlier this year. And his home run Wednesday afternoon in the Mets' 6-2 win gave him 26 for the season, helping Dickey become the first 18-game winner in the majors. (Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez responded on Wednesday night by winning his 18th.) Also, Davis has hit home runs in Dickey's last two wins as well as a two-homer day Aug. 26 that included a game-winner, finally showing a clutch bat.
Davis' numbers as of late are eye-popping. So what's the difference? Davis is finally healthy, missing most of the 2011 season with a left-ankle injury and battling valley fever this season, manager Terry Collins said, while Dickey attributes it to his confidence: "It might come from having a big-league father and being around the game, I don't know. That's a hypothesis. I'm really proud of him. He has stuck to his guns." Or maybe it's his confidence in his choice of hats and Dave Kingman as role model.
Davis says he is benefiting by putting the team first: "I’m going up there and I’m trying to help the team. When I do hit a homer, or a two-run homer or a three-run homer, it is helping the team.” But that team approach isn't keeping Davis from looking at individual stats either, with talk about disappointment in his batting average, encouragement at more walks and, of course, the home runs. "This year, just breaking 20 would have been cool because I'd never done that. I'd like to hit 30. I'd also like to hit 40. At least it's possible."
We've mentioned this before, but it's a good gauge of just how bad the Mets have been for so long: Not only have the Mets not had a 20-game winner since former Twin Frank Viola did it in 1990, but if Davis does indeed reach 30 homers, he would be the first Met to do it since 2008, when Carlos Delgado had 38 and David Wright 33.