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Jake Marisnick Needs To Start Over J.D. Davis

Each and every prospective lineup people put out for the 2020 Mets has J.D. Davis in left field. This is despite the fact Davis can’t play the position at all.

Last year, he had a -11 DRS and a -7 OAA. Both of those numbers are unplayable in left field. While you can argue he’s been working hard this offseason to improve, his 26.3 ft/sec sprint speed is just too slow to expect him from being anything that a below average outfielder.

But it’s not just Davis in left, it’s what it does to the entire defensive alignment. Davis in left then puts Brandon Nimmo in center as opposed to a corner OF position where he is much better suited.

In Nimmo’s career, he’s a -9 DRS in center, and he’s a 1 DRS in the corners. He’s a positive defender in left with a 3 DRS. Put another way, Nimmo belongs in left.

Historically, the Mets don’t care. They just want the bats out there despite that plan continuously failing. Consider this, since 2017, the Mets have had the absolute worst defense in Major League Baseball, and it’s not even close.

With each of these seasons, the Mets underachieved. That includes last year. With better defense, that could’ve potentially been a better performing team. Despite that, the Mets look at defense like it’s a novelty which you roll out there in the late innings failing to realize you may not get that lead because of those catchable balls in left went for base hits, and those singles or outs became extra base hits.

That’s part of the reason why Jake Marisnick needs to be in center flanked by Nimmo and Michael Conforto in 2020. With Marisnick posting elite defensive metrics year-in and year-out, he makes his team’s defense significantly better. He’d do that with the Mets as well.

Any concerns about his offense is a red herring, and it falls into the same trap the Mets always fall.

Consider this, Davis had a 138 OPS+ to Marisnick’s 80, and yet, Marisnick still had a higher WAR last year. The reason is because DEFENSE MATTERS.

Aside from the DH, there is far more than pitching and 2-4 PAs per game. You have to go out there and field your position. The position you play has an impact on defensive alignment. By playing Marisnick, you’re getting the most out of Nimmo and Conforto. You’re also getting the most out of your pitching by ensuring outs are outs and maybe stealing a few outs here and there.

The Mets also have plenty of offense across the diamond. Moreover, they now have a DH where they can stick the pure offensive player. With that being the case, there’s even less of an excuse to sacrifice defense for offense.

That goes double when you consider Marisnick is the overall more productive player than Davis. That’s an important point to consider when Marisnick was better than Davis when Davis was at his best.

In the end, the Mets need to remember defense matters, and more to the point to play the players who give them the best chance to win. That’s more productive players who help the team get the most out of the roster. That’s why Marisnick needs to play over Davis.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This goes more in-depth on the correlation between defense and making the postseason.

27 thoughts on “Jake Marisnick Needs To Start Over J.D. Davis”

  1. LongTimeFan1 says:

    JD’s worked hard since the end of the 2019 season to improve his speed, agility, jumps, and defense. Until we see him executing these upgraded skills, tools and abilities, you really don’t have much of a case.

    Marisnick is the best defensive outfielder on the 40. He’s also graced with foot speed but hasn’t produced at the plate anywhere close to expectations of a once high ranking prospect. Unless he hits, his role will be late inning defense, pinch hitting, perhaps pinch running especially with expanded roster, and occasional starts.

    As for who plays left – and outfield defense in general, Cespedes may indeed get time there. Whether it’s primarily his spot, rather than primary DH or even split, is yet to be determined. One way or another, JD will get plenty playing time be it left field or DH. His bat and plate approach very much deepens the lineup in OBP, BA, SLG, OPS as mid order bat, and helps make the projected lineup an opponents’ nightmare.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      JD can work all he wants, but it’s not going to make him quick enough to play LF everyday.

      Looking at his numbers and skill set, he can’t play LF everyday. That goes double when you consider how poor the OF defense becomes.

      Remember, Syndergaard and Wheeler are gone. They’ve been replaced by pitchers who pitch to contact. The OF defense is now of increased importance.

  2. Rory says:

    Your entire argument is based on a 0.4 difference in their bWAR. JD outstripped Marisnick by 1.2fWAR, so even if you took the average of the WAR’s Davis would be the more productive player. Marisnick was signed to fill the Juan Lagares spot on the roster (defensive replacement/4th OFer), there’s no reason to take the 3rd or 4th best hitter In the lineup for that.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      If you think the argument is entirely bWAR based, I encourage you to go back and read it again.

      More important than the bWAR difference is the overall difference in the cumulative OAA and DRS of the OF.

      And stop, Davis, whose success was attributable to a juiced ball and unsustainable BABIP, is not the third or fourth best hitter on the team.

      1. David Klein says:

        Davis who hit the ball super hard was a product of the juiced ball but Dom who’s batted ball profile changed wasn’t, okay.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          And Davis still can’t play a defensive position.

      2. Rory says:

        If you look at his xstats, they indicate that his BABIP had much more to do with his approach than with luck. 90th percentile or higher in exit velocity, hard hit rate, xWOBA, xBA, and xSLG. I’m not going to argue he isn’t an atrocious fielder, because he is. But the bat is good enough to not only justify, but necessitate his presence in the lineup

        1. metsdaddy says:

          If you go through the 150 year history of baseball, his BABIP from June on is completely unsustainable, and that’s before you consider his production coincided with the juiced ball.

          1. Rory says:

            That’s immaterial to the xStats that have him in the 90th percentile or higher compared to the rest of the league that was playing with the same ball as him in terms of expected outcomes at the plate. And his season long BABIP was by no means unprecedented either. Of course if you go on a tear for half a season you’re gonna have an unusually high BABIP in that time frame. You’re going to have an unusually high everything in that timeframe. but again, if you hit the ball harder than 90% of the league, your balls in play are going to be hits more often than the average player.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            No, it’s not immaterial when it’s never happened in the 150 year history of MLB.

            And again, I’ll note, his production coincided with a juiced ball, which was easier to lift. That’s of extreme importance considering Davis’ historical GB/FB ratio.

            As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not buying what he did from June on. He’s never been that player, and he needed a juiced ball and unsustainable BABIP to become that player.

          3. Rory says:

            I feel like we’re gonna go in circles with you bringing up his BABIP with zero context and me giving you context to ignore, so whatever. I do think it’s weird that you’re pretending that JD’s BABIP from June on is unheard of for half a season from a good hitter. Joey Votto had a .452 And .418 BABIP in the second halves of 2016 and 2015 respectively.

          4. metsdaddy says:

            The context is the juiced ball which is easier to lift. Every JD defender refuses to acknowledge this and its impact on a player who had previously pounded the ball into the dirt.

            His offensive profile completely changed with a juiced ball. Sorry, I don’t trust that breakout. Not remotely.

          5. Rory says:

            The Juiced ball improved *EVERY* hitters stats. He still was in the top 10% of hitters who were ~also~ playing with the juiced ball. I don’t know a clearer way to explain this point, it feels like you’re willfully ignoring the percentile part of the x stats.

          6. metsdaddy says:

            The juiced ball was easier to lift, which was of vital importance for a player who could not lift the ball at all.

            You’re allowed to be optimistic and bullish on JD all you want. Personally, I’m not buying in on that completely suspect breakout.

          7. Rory says:

            Also, he had 272 more plate appearances last year than he did in his entire career up to that point. Why would 180 sporadic plate appearances have more predictive power than his first stretch of consistent playing time

          8. metsdaddy says:

            He played in the minors as well

  3. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Of course speed and agility training, along with improved defensive skills and actions can make JD quick enough to play LF, and well. It’s science, mechanics and neuro-muscular training, which should advance his foot speed to MLB average, 27.0, if not more. We’ll have to wait and see what that looks like when he plays left field.

    We saw Dom Smith make significant improvements in his foot speed during pre baseball shutdown spring appearances. He too vowed to spend the offseason improving his speed and quickness, and is exactly what we saw. His 2019 foot speed was just a tad slower than JD’s 26.3 with Dom 26.2.

    Mets are deep in position players who deserve playing time, hence I forsee mix and matching in LF, DH, and some in CF. They can do that because the offense factors, and there’s either health, or some historical defensive or other shortcomings among candidates in various degrees that we must wait to see how that plays out as games return.

    If there’s going to be everyday guy in left field, or majority games there, a healthy Cespedes is the more likely because of proven all around tools. Let’s say 2-4 games a week in LF, and others as DH and off days. Luis Rojas is very smart guy, and will make decisions in the best overall interest of that day’s game through data and knowing his players. The manager, coaching and front office all pulling from same rope, all well prepared.. Marisnik wasn’t traded here to be a regular, and didn’t have enough time in spring training to have a dominant offensive one, to change the narrative of his bat. If he hits because of proper approach and good swing,, his playing time warrants increase.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      No, there is too far a gap between his speed and acceptance OF speed for him to get there.

      Ultimately, you can’t have non-OF in the OF. Short of necessity due to injury, it cannot happen.

      1. LongTimeFan1 says:

        Nick Markakis – 26.1
        Stephen Piscotty – 26.0
        Michael Brantley – 26.4
        Alex Gordon – 25.4
        Marwin Gonzalez – 25.8
        Kole Calhoun – 25.9
        Gerardo Parra – 26.3

        1. metsdaddy says:

          You’re comparing Davis to aging OF with significant experience. You’re also comparing him to some players who are not full time OF anymore.

          Davis is not capable of playing LF on an everyday basis.

  4. David Klein says:

    On brand as always

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Yes, wanting better players to play is my brand

  5. David Klein says:

    Marasnick was 4th OFer in Houston that got 250-300 at bats but yeah let’s play him over a lethal hitter like Davis, lol

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Lethal (only when the ball is juiced and he has an unsustainable BABIP)

  6. Rich Hausig says:

    Be careful with all that DRs mumbo-jumbo. You still need to score runs and while defense is important, I think what we are going to see is a lot of late game D subs more than trying to put the best defense out there for 9 innings. Remember with the DH (and the 10th inning rule) you wont need as many bats off the bench and can focus more on role specific guys. In our case that means defense and Marisnick, Gimenez, A. Sanchez and other the glove specialists will get their chance late in games.

    Its interesting but I think the this whole thing has really broken in the Mets favor on almost all counts. We are healthy and everyone seems to be all in, you cant say that for other clubs. We have a couple strong DH options and a deep pen. But also, the manager is uniquely qualified for this type of season because of his Winter League resume and has a group that will support him, especially during a period of crisis like this. I think you could see him change his up the middle guys, catcher, 2B and CF completely with a lead in the 9th. Maybe the SS too if he goes back to being shaky.

    My take from listening to both BVW and Rojas is that they are looking at this on an inning by inning basis. Maybe other teams are too, I dont know, but I think they are right. Over 162 thats an exhausting way to do it but this is like an NFL season now, every play matters, you have to put up Ws. I like both Rojas and BVW in this spot and with new ownership coming in they both are as motivated to succeed as Cespedes is. Thats a good thing.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      The Mets are eschewing defense for offense at C, 1B, 2B, and SS. I think they can afford to have a competent OF defensive alignment, especially with a starting staff which now predominantly pitches to contact.

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