The Brewers are said to be casting a wide net in evaluating their options for first base. In addition to Jason Rogers they're looking at a number of free agents. So far this week we've taken a look at Daniel Nava and Chris Carter. Those two players represent opposite spectrums at first base. Nava is defense and versatility over offense and Carter is home runs and nothing else. Ike Davis is something in-between.
As is often the case with marginal major league talent, when a player does one impressive thing in one season it drives his employment regardless if he ever does it again. In 2012 Ike Davis hit 32 home runs. He's played at the major league level every year since but the most home runs he hit after that were 11. Those came in 2014 and of the three seasons that proceeded the 32 HR year, it was the only one that wasn't below average. In 2013 he hit for a 92 wRC+ and this year an 83 wRC+. His issue is making contact and he typically has very low batting averages. Though he also typically has a double digit walk rate which helps his OBP to a point.
Despite those overall numbers, Davis--a left handed hitter--typically fares well enough vs right-handed pitcher. In every season, except 2015, he's produced a wRC+ above 100. His poor production in 2015 is very likely an aberration. He only saw 220 plate appearances vs RHP which was the fewest in any seasons besides 2011 when he only played 36 games. As a left-handed hitter he would fit in a platoon with Jason Rogers.
His defense at first base is not great. But generally he's been close to average or slightly below average. In other words at the very least he's not a defensive liability. He's probably on par with Daniel Nava at first base though he lacks the positional flexibility. Even if he were slightly below average defensively for the Brewers, he would be a good deal better than the likes of Chris Carter and Pedro Alvarez.
So in that way Ike Davis does offer an interesting combination of skills. But it's more potential than anything else. You know that Carter and Alvarez with give you 20+ home runs with a chance for 30+. The cost is poor defense. You know Nava will give you solid defense and multi-positional flexibility. The cost is likely weak offense--though there's a chance for more. With Davis you're mostly hoping he can tap into some of the skills he's shown in the past. There's potential for big power and decent defense, but with no guarantees he'll be good in any area.
Depending on what you value Davis might make the most sense or the least. If he could tap into those skills he's shown in different seasons--but rarely all in the same--then he would easily be the best player of this group of first basemen. There's just no guarantee like there is with the others. You could sum it up by saying Ike Davis has the highest ceiling, but also lowest floor among free agent first base options.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs