Brown: J.D. Davis Preparing For Key Role In ‘Intimidating’ Mets Lineup

New York's Sluggers Are Ready For The 2020 Season

Jake Brown
February 12, 2020 - 10:47 am

"Looking at it on paper, it's pretty intimidating.” 

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Those were the words of Mets utility man J.D. Davis last week on the 2020 potential Mets lineup. 

It’s hard not to look at a fully healthy Mets lineup and not salivate a little bit. From top to bottom, they have hitters for average, power, youth and versatility. Davis entered last season unsure of what his role would be. The thought coming in was he would be a backup third baseman with a chance to get some playing time here and there. He turned out to be a mainstay in the lineup and a .307 hitter in 140 games in his first full season in the big leagues. 

“We're going to have some fun. We're definitely going to hit some home runs. We're excited. With all the noise comes with it, we need to stay hungry and stay humble and keep getting better. The best way to do that is win ball games,” Davis said last week at the 40th Annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner, benefiting the AHRC Foundation, which assists children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  

Davis said he has lost around seven pounds in the offseason as he looks to become a little bit more agile at the plate, in the field and on the basepaths. While he expects to have a key role on the 2020 Mets, where he plays and how often will be a mystery. He became a left fielder for most of last season, but may see time at third base in a part-time role this season as well. 

"I've been pretty 50-50 with getting reps out in left field or third base. I'm excited and I'll be ready for the team wherever they need me,” the 26-year-old Davis said. 

Pete Alonso congratulates J.D. Davis of the Mets after his home run in the fourth inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on September 27, 2019.
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Davis had a great 2019 campaign, but with the way the roster shapes out, the Mets don’t exactly have a permanent spot for him right now, if healthy. That’s not a bad problem to have with the injuries this team deals with every year. Jeff McNeil is expected to be the third baseman, and Jed Lowrie is still around as well. The question for the Mets, and for Davis, will be about Yoenis Cespedes. If the Mets power-hitting left fielder is healthy, he is expected to get a good amount of playing time there, which could cut back on how often Davis plays. It’s also hard to expect Cespedes to be close to an everyday player, especially if the Mets want to keep him on the field. When the Cuban slugger is in the lineup, it’s hard not to drool a bit. 

"I'm stoked. He came down here and there whenever we were in Miami. Just to see him hit baseballs or hit batting practice or run or job, it's been pretty exciting and what he brings to the team. We're pretty stoked about it,” Davis said at Chelsea Piers, where he was one of the recipients of a Thurman Munson Award. 

“I know us in the group chat are pretty excited to have him back. To see that video of him jogging, I don't know what percentage he was jogging, he looked good and he looked ready to go." 

The true slugger in the middle of that 2019 order was Pete Alonso, who smashed 53 homers and drove in 120 runs in his historic rookie season. It wasn’t just what Alonso did at the plate and defensively, where he was far better than everyone expected, but off the field. “Polar Pete” became one of the leading voices in the clubhouse and a guy who brought everyone together. It’s pretty rare to see a rookie step up like that, especially in a major media market like New York City. 

"It speaks to what we're trying to build here for the Mets. We're trying to build a young group and just have some success and build a home for all of us or at least for the young guys to come up and contribute,” Davis said. 

“I know for me coming up and just being a little bit intimidated with the older guys, and so we're trying to build that. Pete is taking a real step forward in being that leader. It really helps when the guy is hitting 50 home runs, it's easier for that guy to be a leader. For what he's done and what he's done in his first year, it's unbelievable. Batting fourth when he was batting third, just the presence that he has in the clubhouse, not only in the box. Pitchers fear him and we love him as a teammate, as a person and he's genuinely a loving and great guy so we can't ask for anything more from him."

The Mets won 86 games last year, falling just three games short of tying the Brewers for the second NL wild-card spot. Doing that well with some career-worst performances from the bullpen along with some key injuries, the Mets have a chance in 2020 to be a playoff team if all the chips fall their way. 

"I can't say where we are. I'm not going to put a number on it … but I know for a fact that we're a pretty confident group and ending the second half on a high note, even though we didn't make the playoffs, but the runs that we made, the plays that we made, and the games that we won … is only going to help us with momentum going into the first half,” Davis said. 

While the ownership dilemma has taken over the headlines, it shouldn’t overlook the fact that this is the best Mets team, at least on paper, in a while. The pieces are in place for this to be a bounce-back year that features a return to October. Davis’ versatility will be a key part of that. 

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