PHILADELPHIA -- These days, batting average is a dirty phrase to many general managers around baseball. Strikeout-prone sluggers command significant contracts, despite batting averages that often hover barely above the Mendoza line.
But Mets first baseman Ike Davis is obsessed with batting average, to the extent that he considers his body of work this season "horrible." Despite the fact that he has already blown away his previous career high in home runs and, by most measures, has been one of the game's most productive hitters since June, Davis continues harping on an average that remains muddled in the .220s.
"I'd like it to be as high as possible," Davis said of his average, which was at a season-high .226 entering Thursday's play despite a career-high 24 home runs and 71 RBI. "I don't want it to stay stagnant."
Forget that Davis ranks 16th in baseball in OPS since June 9, ninth in slugging percentage, seventh in home runs or 18th in total bases. Forget the fact that over that span, Davis has statistically been the most productive first baseman in the National League.
Batting average consumes him.
"I see it as this has been a horrible year for me," Davis said. "I think I can do way better than I've done."
Since emerging from his season-long slump on June 9, Davis has hit .277 -- a reasonable expectation for future seasons. His skill set makes it unlikely that he will ever contend for a batting title, which makes his fixation with the statistic almost amusing -- especially at a time when most general managers value power production far more than batting average.
"There's no goal," Davis said. "The goal is just to keep playing well and try to hit the ball hard."