Mets pretty sure Ike Davis has Valley Fever

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Mets first baseman Ike Davis missed over 100 games last season due to a left ankle injury.

And now his 2012 is off to a rough start.

According to Marty Noble of MLB.com, the Mets are “treating Davis as if Valley Fever has been diagnosed” and are already planning days off for him this spring. His blood work is not done being reviewed in New York, but there’s a certainty in Port St. Lucie about what it will eventually say.

Valley Fever is a fungal disease common in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico (Davis lives in Arizona) with symptoms ranging from fevers and coughs to rashes and joint aches. It cost former Diamondbacks outfielder Conor Jackson nearly the entire 2009 season and created a hole in former minor leaguer Joe Vavra’s lung. Vavra is now the Twins’ major league hitting coach.

Davis isn’t symptomatic yet, and the disease can clear on its own, but the Mets are prepared for the worst. When asked Saturday whether the team has developed a contingency plan in case the talented 24-year-old is again absent from the lineup, manager Terry Collins replied: “Had to. Have to be prepared. Can’t be blindsided.” Lucas Duda would likely fill in at first base, where he started 37 games in 2011.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.