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Coleman’s Corner: Understanding Ike

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AP Photo/Evan Vucci

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

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Ike Davis is admittedly stubborn by nature.

That trait has led at times this season to a difference of opinion and a clashing of egos with members of the Mets coaching staff, but it’s also something that fuels Davis’ competitiveness, and it’s never festered or lingered for any length of time with any of the parties involved.

Davis explained the bottom line when he put it this way – “I don’t want to get to the end of the season, look back, and be unhappy with my results, and then say I should have listened more to myself instead of that person’s advice or this person’s suggestion. I’ll take advice, as long as I conform it to what’s best for me.” Davis has listened enough to incorporate two key ingredients into his approach which has triggered his recent surge at the plate – taking the ball the other way (using the whole field), and taking the walk (plate discipline).

Davis is hitting at a .400 clip over his last 11 games. In a broader sample, he’s hit safely in 19 of the last 25 games, batting .357 over that span. Davis has 68 RBI, and many of them in big spots – nearly 40% of the runs he’s driven in have come with 2 outs, making him tied for the team lead with 26 two-out RBI. He did go 0-for-August in home runs, but does have 18 long balls, second on the team to David Wright. And the walks have increased markedly in the second half, a good sign, giving him 63, again second to Wright’s 64.

Davis will strike out a lot (126), but that’s natural for a power hitter, and he’s added 31 doubles into the mix as well. Some of Ike’s stubbornness undoubtedly comes from being around the game and – like father, like son – his Dad Ron was a bulldog reliever for both the Yankees and Twins. But when you combine his stellar defense at 1B with an offensive approach that’s getting smarter and more productive, there’s a lot to like moving forward.

Speaking of moving forward, the Sterling Awards (Minor League MVP’s) were bestowed on Wednesday night at CitiField. Lucas Duda was named the Organizational Player of the Year after smashing 23 HR, 87 RBI and 40 doubles combined between Binghamton and Buffalo. Duda has struggled mightily at the major league level since his call-up, with just a double in 33 AB thus far and sitting on an 0-22.

The Pitcher of the Year was lefty Mark Cohoon, who went 12-5 with a 2.57 ERA between Savannah and Binghamton this year. Cohoon – who had a 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (131-32) – was also the Sterling winner last season with the Brooklyn Cyclones. Pitcher Dillon Gee – who’s acquitted himself nicely in his first two major league starts (1 ER in 13 innings) – was the Buffalo winner. Other winners included SS Wilmer Flores of St. Lucie, who hit .508 vs. lefties and drove in 84 runs, RF Cesar Puello of Savannah, CF Darrell Ceciliani of Brooklyn, who led the New York-Penn League with a .351 batting average, slugging 3B Aderlin Rodriguez of Kingsport, and RHP Domingo Tapia of the Gulf Coast Mets.

But the one to watch for me might be OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis of Binghamton. Nieuwenhuis – who copped the Sterling at St. Lucie last year – can play all three outfield positions and led Binghamton in runs (81), doubles (35), RBI (60) and total bases, while also hitting 16 HR. He was promoted to Triple AAA Buffalo for the final 30 games of the year and noticeably struggled, hitting just .225. But Nieuwenhuis looks the part – athletic, 6-3, 210, a star running back in football in high school for the Colorado state champs (2004) – and has handled each step along the way nicely. Scouts and other observers love Duda’s swing, but I’ll take a longer shot on Nieuwenhuis that he might deliver the goods.

This just in – another one bites the dust. It’s a good thing the Mets have under 20 games remaining – they’ll have just enough players to cover if they continue to drop at the rate of one per game. Jenrry Mejia has been diagnosed with a rhomboid strain of his right shoulder blade – he has been shut down and will not return this season. Earlier this year, Mejia suffered a strained rotator cuff and was shut down for the next 6 weeks. So much for his trade value in the off-season. OK, next?

C U soon

Eddie C.

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