NBC: Ike Davis is NL's 2nd best first baseman

Yesterday, Prince Fielder reportedly signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers.

In a post to NBC Hardball Talk, Matthew Poulliot lists Ike Davis as the second best first baseman in the National League (now that Fielder is in the AL), with his projected .864 OPS behind only Joey Votto’s .990 OPS.

According to FanGraphs, Bill James projects Davis to hit .288 with 25 home runs and 80 RBI in 141 games in 2012. Prior to injuring his ankle on May 10 last season, Davis was on pace to hit 31 home runs with 112 RBI.

Earlier this month, Davis told Anthony Rieber of Newsday that he’s healthy and the bone bruise in his ankle is not a concern.

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Michael Baron: Assuming his ankle problems are behind him, my expectations of Ike are in line with both Poulliot’s and James’ projections … if not a little higher (given the new dimensions at Citi Field). At these levels, Ike would also prove to be one of the great values in the league with a salary of around $430,000; Votto will earn $19 million with the Reds. What’s intriguing to me is how David Wright, Jason Bay and Lucas Duda will affect Ike’s performance. Because, if those three players can at least meet expectations, they will provide better protection in the lineup.

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Brian Erni: What sets Ike apart from the pack offensively is his patience.  Davis is willing to take a walk, as evidenced by his .351 OBP in his rookie season and his .383 OBP in his 36 games in 2011.  It’s a trait that can’t be valued enough in middle of the order hitters. Ike very rarely extends the strike zone, which lets pitchers know they’ll rarely get him to chase. As a result, pitchers have to challenge him more than they’d like, which ultimately gives Ike more pitches to hit. If Davis is going to assume a place among the top NL first basemen, I’d like to see the comfort level he showed against lefties in 2010 return. In 138 plate appearances, Davis hit .295/.362/.443 against left handed pitching. In the 50 plate appearances against lefties prior to his injury, Ike’s numbers fell to .163/.260/.233: something that could have been eventually been exploited had he played for a full season.