From 2008-2011, Davis hit .444, .337, .486 and .505, earning All-Metro recognition in his last three seasons at Elk Grove High School in California. J.D. was dominant on the mound too, striking out 219 batters in 165 career innings (1.3 batters per inning) and never posted an ERA above 2.60.
J.D. was off to Cal-State Fullerton on a baseball scholarship, majoing in business.
Davis says he models his game after David Wright and Aaron Hill. J.D.'s favorites include: David Wright (baseball player), Fenway Park (stadium), Derek Jeter (athlete), Linkin Park and Lil Wayne (musical artists), Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox (teams), Goodwin Field (place to play baseball), “The Natural” and "Django" (movie), “Out of My League” (book), Eva Mendes and Cheryl Cole (actresses), Italian (food).
In 2014, J.D. was drafted by the Astros (see Transactions below).
In 2016, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Davis as the 14th-best prospect in the Astros organization. He moved up to #12 in the winter before 2017 spring training. And he was at #10 in the spring of 2018.
HE CAN PITCH TOO
September 9, 2017: Davis isn't new to this pitching thing. In fact, the Astros rookie was a closer at Cal-State Fullerton. After pitching a scoreless inning on Aug. 29, Davis was called back to the mound in the eighth inning of an 11-1 loss to the Athletics. With the second game of a doubleheader still to be played, Houston manager A.J. Hinch needed to keep his bullpen fresh, so Davis was left with the unenviable task of being a position player entering with the bases loaded. He throws in the low-90s and has a 13.5K/9 rate.
Davis wasn't phased. He started his inning by sitting down Marcus Semien with a sharp two-seamer. He then wrapped up the inning with a well-placed change that Khris Davis couldn't connect on. (MLB-Cut4)
2019: Along with his bat and his defensive versatility, Davis also brings another wrinkle to his game; the potential to pitch. Whether he gets that chance with the Mets is undetermined at this point, but once the Mets get a look at Davis in Spring Training, team officials will “gauge the situation”.
“Whatever I can do. It’s a skill set that I have — a good arm and a good fastball,” Davis said. “I can go out there and compete and get some outs, that’s for sure.”
August 2019: Steve Serby took some time for a Q&A with J.D. Davis:
Q: What are your career goals? A: For one, I want to win a Gold Glove at third base. I think that would put a little bit of frosting on the cupcake. The Yankees, they have their Crown Jewels, the shortstop. And over here at Citi Field, it’s third base because of what David Wright has accomplished over here. Then obviously to win a World Series. I know the Astros won a World Series, but I was at home in Sacramento, California. I never made their reserve roster, I wasn’t there in the dugout. It was kind of bittersweet. I wanted to be a part of it, and I could see it now with these guys over here having a young group, we can start building something. It’s pretty cool to watch young guys blossom, and I think we have something special going on over here.
Q: Boyhood idols? A: I grew up liking (Derek) Jeter. I liked Scott Rolen. I liked the old-school guys and then around middle school, I started liking David Wright. I liked Pedro (Martinez), Curt Schilling, especially when he had that bloody sock series, oh man, that was incredible. Q: Do you consider yourself a gritty guy? A: Oh, absolutely.
Q: Give me an example. A: I take pride in obviously spraying the ball around, hustling to first, and then having a good at-bat where sometimes I can go down 0-2 and to really fight to get to that 3-2 count and either get a hit or get a walk by fouling off a couple of pitches in between. Oh, I get pumped up. That’s better to me than a double, knowing the fact that you got on top of me, I laid off some of your best pitches, and I still won.
Q: So you like frustrating the pitcher? A: Absolutely. Absolutely. Because they frustrate us hitters sometimes (laugh).
Q: From the time your father was your first coach to now, what drives you? A: I love this game. I love baseball. I love being part of the guys, I love not letting them down, coming through with them. Just being able to have that opportunity to make memories like that and just have him call me or text me after those big moments.It’s a blast here in New York. I love winning. So many people have talked about they want to be the best, they want to be the greatest. But you don’t win, you ain’t gonna get up there. I want to be one of the better hitters.
Q: In what way is it a blast here in New York? A: It’s just the energy, I love it. It’s a lion’s den. You can’t shy away from it, like you got to go out there, and it’s the bright lights, the Big Apple, got to have fun with it. You know you’re going to fail, know you’re going to get a few boos in there, but I’d rather have fans that are passionate and pay attention to the game than fans that don’t show up at all. I try to interact with the crowd, especially out there in left field, just try to have fun with them, and try to bring them into the game, showing them how many outs there are after an out, or strike three. I try to throw them a ball before every inning, just throw it to a kid. Growing up, I went to so many Dodger games, I was more of the shy, quiet kid. I was always the one holding my glove up, I never screamed, I was too shy or too scared, so I always try to look for one of those kids where they’re just quiet, sitting with their dad or something like that, just to make their day.
Q: Why are you so obsessed with video preparation? A: We have an app on our iPad where like last night I was watching Strasbourg’s last two starts … coming from the Astros and seeing how they prepare, you see one of the best pitchers in the game, Justin Verlander, he starts, and the next day he’s in the video room watching the next team he’s going to play. He has four days to break down every single hitter. And during the final game, he has like a whole 8×11 front and back of just how to break down every single hitter, what they’re looking for.
Q: So when you’re at your apartment you still do it? A: I think it just goes to show that I love this game and I don’t really get sick of it. You hear stories about guys where they get done with the baseball game, they go home and they don’t want to click on the TV just to watch a baseball game. I live and breathe it, I love it.
Q: After Friday night’s game what would you do? A: I’ll probably plug in in my iPad tomorrow’s starter, in my apartment, and probably while I’m in bed. The last thing to end my day, I know who’s pitching tomorrow, and just to go to bed so I wake up knowing who’s pitching that day. I don’t know, just a psychological thing for me.
Q: How does your girlfriend put up with this? A: She’ll help me out too, she’ll break it down with me. She’ll watch some of the film too, she loves baseball, she grew up a softball player and she played softball in college, so she loves watching baseball. Sometimes, especially on days off where she’s like, “Uh, babe, let’s go out to dinner, come on, it’s me and you time, let’s go!” She knows that I’m very serious about baseball, and she knows the priorities. But again, it’s good to have a girlfriend that enjoys it and obviously helps out too. Q: You were a closer at Cal State Fullerton. A: I think I popped like 95, maybe 96.
Q: Can Jeff McNeil win a batting title? A: Absolutely. Just give him a few more hot dogs and he’ll do it. Oh, he loves ’em. We got like chicken or pasta before the game — here comes a hot dog for McNeil. Q: You can face one pitcher in MLB history to test your skills. A: Nolan Ryan. I think it would be a great test just to see how fast that fastball is. I don’t shy away from competition.
Q: Why do you hit so well at home? A: I don’t know, I guess it goes back to being here in New York, I love playing here. You go to stadiums where like the batter’s box is really sandy, you’re slipping and sliding in there. Lights can be at home plate it could be dim. Texas Rangers, it’s a little dim at home plate, it’s weird. I wish I had the formula and everything, I would take it on the road with me (chuckle).
Q: How did you win the PCL (Pacific Coast League) batting title? A: A lot of luck. There were a lot of hits that I thought were squeaking by, but when you’re hot you’re hot (smile). I switched my swing up a little bit where my bat was too vertical and so it created a loop in my swing where I wouldn’t be able to foul pitches for tough pitches to extend the at-bat or put balls in play. So I basically just twerked it behind my ear which you see a lot of really good hitters do, you see Mike Trout, you see Carlos Gonzalez, you see (Anthony) Rendon. I fixed that and so that really helped me spray the ball all around, and then being able to be quick to turn on a fastball inside down the left field line in a way.
Q: Your brother Ben is a redshirt senior guard at the University of Minnesota. A: He’s like 6-foot-5, 315. He’s a monster. Q: You played football in high school. A: I broke my leg going into my junior year. I was quarterback, I was scrambling, and the guy basically grabbed my leg and went crocodile style and just twisted my leg. It was kind of a sign, do I rehab and try to play both baseball and football, or do I just give up football and just concentrate on baseball?
Q: Your dog? A: I got a little yellow English Lab. Q: Name? A: Yogi. Like Yogi Berra. Q: Why did you name him Yogi? A: We were thinking about a baseball name. My brother’s dog who is huge, he’s a chocolate lab, his name is Koufax after Sandy Koufax, so we were just like, “All right, we got to get a catcher,” and he’s very short and a little stubby (laugh), so. . .
Q: Superstitions? A: I did have a superstition last year. I went to Tacoma up in Washington, and I hit six home runs in like four, five games. Before the first game I hit the home run, I had lobster. So I was like, “I got to have lobster before every game,” so it just went on for the rest of the season where even if it was like a $9.99 little tail of lobster. It was a fun way to play with the guys and everything. But right now, not really, I don’t really have a superstition.
Dec 4, 2019: One would have thought it was Christmas Day at Citi Field. But the kids at the Mets’ ballpark were not complaining that presents arrived early. Why? The Mets were hosting schoolchildren at their annual Kids Holiday Party in the Foxwoods Club at Citi Field. The festivities lasted two hours and included lunch, games and holiday performances from the kids from Queens. And can they sing. One of the best performances came from the P.S. 16 children, who sung "O Christmas Tree" in English and Spanish.
The Mets selected more than 100 students from local elementary schools to attend the event. Outfielders Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis along with mascot Mr. Met took part in the festivities. Nimmo played Santa, while Davis played the Baseball Hitting Elf. There’s Davis handing over Christmas presents to Nimmo, who then gave the gifts to the children.The kids couldn’t open the presents until they returned to school, and they received more gifts as they left Citi Field.
“It was great of the Mets to open up to the community, and various schools meeting each other and performing,” said Nicole Bailey, the principal at The Learning Tree.
After the event was over, Nimmo and Davis didn’t hesitate to share how much they enjoyed taking part.
“I love that holiday cheer. It’s a very important time for us, just giving back to the community,” said Nimmo, who was in his third year participating in the event. “It’s very fun for us. I’d like to do this for 15, 20 years. Hopefully, I can beat [John] Franco, who was doing it the longest.”
Said Davis, “I didn’t know I was dressing up for an elf. It was great for the kids to get presents and celebrate the holiday. I think Brandon has been a good Santa.” (B Ladson - MLB.com - Dec 4, 2019)
2020 Season: The Mets asked Davis to focus mostly on left field, only to shift him back to third once the season began. He once again struggled with the glove, despite showcasing an elite throwing arm that had served him well as a pitcher at Cal State Fullerton. Davis fell to -3 OAA at third, which he doesn’t believe is indicative of what he can do this year.
In some ways, offense -- never a problem throughout Davis’ early career -- is of more concern than defense, considering his slump to a .247/.371/.389 slash line with only six home runs in 229 plate appearances last season. He admits to becoming too “rotational” early in the summer, relying less on his hands for bat speed and more on his torso.
June 2014: The Astros chose Davis in the third round, out of Cal State-Fullerton. Scout Brad Budzinski signed him for a bonus of $748,600. Davis was a hitter and pitcher in college, but will play third base in the Astros' system.
Jan 6, 2019: The Astros traded SS Cody Bohanek and 3B J.D. Davis to the Mets for SS Luis Santana, OF Ross Adolph and C Scott Manea.
- Feb 5, 2021: The independent arbitrator sided with the Mets in the salary arbitration hearing against third baseman J.D. Davis, meaning Davis will earn $2.1 million in 2021. He sought $2.475 million.
|Birth City:||Elk Grove, CA|
|Draft:||Astros #3 - 2014 - Out of Cal State-Fullerton|
Davis is a pure hitter with good bat speed and strength from the right side of the plate. And he has a 60 for power, which is above-average.
He hits bombs based more on his strength, than his bat speed. But he strikes out a whole lot. And so far, it is a pull-heavy approach might keep him as a 4-A player, "too good for the minors, not good enough for the Majors."
While many Astros have embraced hitting more fly balls, Davis' swing leads to a lot of screaming ground balls. If he could get the ball into the air more he could hit 30+ home runs. (J.J. Cooper - BA Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2018)
J.D. projects as a below-average hitter with good opposite-field power. He clears the left field fence, and also hits the ball out to center and right field.
He draws some walks, so he could post decent on-base percentages.
Breaking balls give Davis problems. So during the 2015 season, J.D. worked with former big leaguer Morgan Ensberg, a special assignment coach with the Astros.
“Ensberg came down and he was helping me stick to an approach on how to hit the cutter,” Davis said. “In college you really don’t see a cutter, (but) a cutter is really becoming a weapon in the minor leagues and the Major Leagues.”
There are questions about Davis' ability to hit advanced pitching. He has decent bat speed, but his swing is a little long. But he can put together a good at-bat.
August 8, 2019: Davis’ 1.152 OPS at Citi Field is the highest in history among players with at least 100 plate appearances there. That includes seven Citi Field home runs, five of which have gone to the opposite field.
Aug 21, 2019: It’s a common saying, that success comes when hard work meets opportunity. It also provides an apt distillation of how J.D. Davis seized control of a tie game in the bottom of the 10th inning, hitting a walk-off single to deep left field to lead the Mets to a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Indians at Citi Field. In a tough at-bat against Cleveland closer Brad Hand, Davis found himself in an early 0-2 count.
“That slider’s devastating,” Davis said. “Once you start getting a little pull-happy like I was doing, you start spinning off and you start rolling over to [the left side of the infield]. So I just got in my two-strike approach and told myself, ‘If I’m gonna go down looking, I’m gonna go down on that fastball in, just because of what it’s doing. It’s setting me up. Because if I swing at that, I’m gonna chase that slider.
“So I just got ready and once I got to 3-2, it’s that old adage—stick with what got you there. So I stuck with my two-strike approach, fouled some tough pitches off, and ended up getting one that was a little more middle over the plate.”
- As of the start of the 2021 season, J.D.'s career stats were: .268 with 33 home runs, 205 hits and 88 RBI in 765 at-bats.
J.D. flashes a decent glove at third base. But at best, he will probably only become an average defender at the hot corner.
Davis is looking to improve his footwork at the hot corner, beginning in the Arizona Fall League after the 2015 regular season.
“Just keeping my feet moving, if it’s charging the ball, lateral or side to side,” Davis said, “and just reading the ball off the bat. Just getting more reps and doing more agility drills.”
Davis is a big guy and lacks mobility that limits his range. But his incredible arm compensates for his lack of speed and agility.
But scouts say fringe-average (a 45 grade on the scouting scale) is as good as J.D. can develop as far as the Majors.
- J.D.'s arm is his best tool. He threw 94-95 mph in college. He grades a 70 on the 20-80 scale.
- J.D. is a below-average runner. He lacks a quick first step.
July 2-9, 2015: Davis was on the D.L.
August 19, 2015: J.D. was back on the DL.
May 2-9, 2017: J.D. was on the DL.
Feb 26, 2020: An MRI taken on J.D. Davis’ left shoulder revealed no new structural damage, but existing labrum damage that had previously been asymptomatic. A day after jamming his shoulder on an infield dive, Davis felt “a little achy, a little sore,” but called that “expected.”
The Mets do not consider the existing labrum tear a major issue for Davis, who will begin rehabbing immediately in Port St. Lucie. Davis said he was not even aware of the previous injury until when a doctor called it the type of “wear and tear” that most athletes experience over time.
March 6, 2020: Davis, who projects as the club's left fielder but has been getting reps at the hot corner, believes he is close to being ready for the field. He anticipates diving being the last hurdle because that's how the injury came about.
"We're getting closer and closer," said Davis, who felt the most discomfort when raising his arm. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling ready to go. I was running around out there. Legs feel good, so pretty confident right now. Just taking it day by day."