Ike Davis or Ryan Howard?

This discussion broke out in the comments yesterday, and now I’m curious — for the 2011 baseball season, would you rather have Ike Davis or Ryan Howard as your first baseman? Who’s going to have a better year? First, a little information on the candidates:

Ike Davis: Last season Davis hit .264/.351/.440 with 19 home runs and 33 doubles in 147 games. His best skills were his patience, walking 72 times as a rookie, and a good glove, saving around 9 runs in the field and tumbling over multiple railings. On the other hand, he is painfully slow, struck out 138 times, and defensive numbers can be fluky. He will be 24 this season. Has a beard.

Ryan Howard: 2010 was a down year for Howard. His power numbers dropped and an ankle injury put him on the DL for the first time in three years. Howard hit .276/.353/.505 with 31 home runs and 23 doubles in 143 games, but is a career .279/.372/.572 hitter and averages 46 home runs and 27 doubles. His walk rate has been dropping for three straight seasons, but his strikeout rate has fallen along with it. He is painfully slow (though probably a tick faster than Davis) and a below-average defender — he appears to have cost his team somewhere around 15 runs defensively last season, but is closer to a negative 4 run fielder for his career. Howard will be 31 this season. Doesn’t have a beard.

Keep in mind two more things: We’re just talking about this season — so who do you think will be a more valuable player in 2011 — and contracts don’t count. Davis is cheap and Howard is signed to that curious mega deal, but please forget about how much each will be paid. Just value on the field, and just in 2011, regardless of salary:

[poll id=”3″]


Filed under Mets, Words

14 responses to “Ike Davis or Ryan Howard?

  1. I guess my vote is obvious based on the comments. It depends really on whether you think Davis will progress and whether Howard will continue regressing, and I lead towards “yes” on both counts. As it is, both Fangraphs and B-R rated Davis ahead of Howard last year in WAR, and that’s with an almost identical number of plate appearances (Howard actually had about 20 PAs on Ike). Defense is the key factor as Howard was actually rated negatively. Moreover, Howard’s oWAR of 2.8 wasn’t exactly dramatically off his recent performances. Also, fwiw, Bill James projects Howard to be better offensively, but it’s not by much.

    Howard’s going to belt the long balls, and I’d give him a slight offensive advantage this year. But I like Ike, and more than Howard, both for this year and beyond.

  2. I like Dais an awful lot and I have high hopes that he can build upon a strong finish to last season. But, Ryan Howard’s average year is damn near Ruthian. He’s coming off a down year, but let’s not act like this guy is 40, he’s 31. I think way too many voters on here are looking at last year’s stats through orange and blue glasses and ignoring the fact that Ryan Howard averaged 4.5 WAR (fg) in the 4 seasons that precluded 2010. Ike Davis had a really nice rookie season, but has no other track record to lean on. In this case, I go with the known quantity, as much as it pains me.

    • Patrick Flood

      I’ll add on that Howard’s strength is his bat, something we’re pretty good at measuring, while Davis’ value comes more from his glove, something we’re not as good at measuring.

  3. ‘Sophomore jinx’ might be a myth, but I’m a believer. I’m not saying Davis will go in the tank, but I do think that Davis and Thole combined will have a worse year than they did in 2010.

  4. What should also be taken into account is the power boost Howard receives from playing half his games in that bandbox. No way he averages anywhere near 46 in Citi.

    • yawn…mets fans are delusional.

      • so we have your word… if Davis does outperform Howard, you’ll come back and say so?

      • Yep, I just book marked this.

        And I have your word that you’ll come back if Howard outperformS your boy IN 2011.

        Now, how do we define ‘outperform’…
        I nominate wins. Or playoff games played. Or HRs. Or Subway commercials. Or cheerleaders ‘known’ if you know what I mean. (it is a little known fact Ryan Howard is loved by cheerleaders).

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