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."
Edgin going strong, but Mets monitor workload
PHILADELPHIA -- Throughout the past two months, Mets manager Terry Collins has stressed the importance of limiting reliever Josh Edgin's workload. Largely blaming himself for lefty specialist Tim Byrdak's season-ending shoulder injury, Collins is wary of the same fate befalling Edgin.
That, at least, is the theory; in practice, Collins is riding Edgin as hard as he did Byrdak earlier this year. Since Edgin made his big league debut on July 13, the lefty specialist has appeared in 24 games, one fewer than league leader Aroldis Chapman. Entering Thursday's play, Edgin had appeared in eight of the Mets' last 11 games, firing scoreless outing after scoreless outing.
"We manage it by making sure that if he pitches two or three days in a row, it's a limited number of guys that he faces," Collins said, referring to the fact that Edgin has faced two or fewer batters in four of his last six outings.
Collins says he relies on hard information from bullpen coach Ricky Bones, who provides him with a daily update of not only how many appearances each of his relievers have made, but how many times they warm up during games. If a reliever begins warming three times in a day, Collins considers it an appearance whether he actually pitches in the game or not.
But precautions aside, Edgin has entered uncharted territory. The 25-year-old left set a career high in appearances last year with 49, more than doubling his workload of the year before. This season, he is already at 65 appearances split between Triple-A and the big leagues, which would rank second in the Majors if they all came at that level.
The Mets do have another left-handed option in Robert Carson, who has reeled off five consecutive scoreless outings. But because Edgin has a longer track record of big league success, the Mets continue trotting him out to the mound.
It is a difficult situation to gauge, especially set against the backdrop of strict innings limits across baseball for young starting pitchers -- the Mets' Matt Harvey included. But Collins said that because Edgin has thrown a relatively low number of innings, his overall number of appearances is not quite so important.
"It's not like this guy is a seven- or eight-year veteran where he's had 60 or 70 appearances a year," the manager said. "This guy has not pitched that much in his career. He's big. He's strong. He'll be fine, but we'll manage it as we go along."
The Mets have extended their affiliation with Double-A Binghamton through the 2016 season, the team announced Thursday, taking their 21-year relationship with the B-Mets deep into a third decade. But it is widely expected that Triple-A Buffalo will not renew its affiliation, likely leaving the Mets in search of a Pacific Coast League affiliate.
Matt Harvey will make his next start on turn, despite his impending innings limit and the team's six-man rotation. Harvey will start Tuesday in St. Louis, followed by R.A. Dickey on regular rest Wednesday. That schedule will push Jon Niese back to Sept. 7 against the Braves, giving him seven days' rest between starts.
Ruben Tejada received a routine day off on Thursday, with Ronny Cedeno filling in at shortstop. "He looks tired to me," manager Terry Collins said, a day after Tejada went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and two popups. "His swing is getting a little long."