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J.D. Davis - 2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleeper


It's that time of year again to start touting this year's fantasy baseball draft sleepers for the upcoming 2020 season. While the term "sleeper" is generally overused, it's the simplest way for us analysts to tell you which players are a sneaky option to return value at their current draft-day price tags.

With that said, we'll focus our attention today on J.D. Davis and his surprisingly productive campaign with the New York Mets. After the Houston Astros sent their former third-round pick to the Big Apple last offseason, Davis did nothing but thrive in his first season in the National League. He finished his campaign sporting a shiny .307/.369/.527 slash line with 22 HR, 65 R, and 57 RBI despite not receiving everyday at-bats for the majority of the 2019 season.

Now locked into regular playing time, what can we expect from the third baseman/outfielder in his age-27 season? Let's take a look back to last year's numbers and see how they project going into 2020.

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Are His 2019 Stats Sustainable?

Stashed away in the Astros system for the 2017-18 seasons, Davis spent his time jumping from the minors to the majors frequently, which affected his results. Through 67 games, he slashed a measly .194/.260/.321 with five homers and a troublesome 27.1% K-rate. His .335 BA across his tenure at Triple-A proved he was ready for the big leagues, but even the Mets were reluctant to insert his right-handed bat into the everyday lineup at first.

Davis provided consistent results when called upon, establishing would-be top-20 marks in Exit Velocity (91.4 MPH) and Hard Hit% (47.7%), if only he had the at-bats to qualify. He displayed the ability to hit both lefties and righties (.312 vs L/.305 vs R) and all types of pitches with a .323 BA vs fastballs, and a .313 BA vs breaking balls. Davis' .234 mark versus off-speed deliveries lagged, but his whiff-rate was low against these pitches (20.7%), and his .308 xBA suggesting he was the recipient of misfortune when he put the ball in play.

The California native forced his way into a regular role over the final two months of the season, where his results flourished to a .321/.374/.600 slash line with 12 big flies as the team's primary fourth or fifth hitter. Davis finished the year just shy of the league average in fly-ball rate (21.6%), but his increased launch angle from August onward helped him post a 28.0% FB%, a number that's more associated with power hitters. If this approach carries over into the 2020 season, we'll have an enticing power/average threat to laud over.

 

2020 Forecast

Davis is currently slotted as the starting left fielder for the Mets, but is still capable of handling the hot corner if needed. He'll qualify for dual positional eligibility in most formats and can realistically hit anywhere in the team's batting order. Davis will likely slide into the fifth spot most of the time, which will help his cause in the RBI column, especially if he can keep the power stroke that he had over the final two months of last season. The ability that Davis has to hit any pitch, paired with the fact that his average didn't falter after a late-season change to his swing, bodes well for his bat to sustain effective results into next year.

Davis will undoubtedly grow on his 453 plate appearances from last season, and with more consistent playing time, his numbers hold appealing potential. A 25-homer hitter who hits around .300 is becoming scarce in this day and age of baseball, and that's a realistic possibility for this bat in 2020. If you require a batting average contributor for one of your outfield spots or miss the boat on a top-tier third baseman, Davis is an attractive consolation prize at his 175.6 ADP.

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