Chris Davis: “Crush”-ing It

Davis1After hitting all of .302/.364/.595 with 74 doubles, 74 home runs, and 233 RBI by the age of 22 in the minor leagues, the Texas Rangers gave Chris Davis a call-up, as he made his debut on June 26, 2008. Davis had a fine rookie campaign, posting solid overall numbers:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2008 TEX 80 317 295 51 84 23 2 17 55 1 20 88 .285 .331 .549 .880
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/7/2013.

Davis posted a 27.8 percent strikeout rate that year, but that statistic was easy to overlook considering the tremendous power and production that the club was getting.

In 2009, things changed pretty drastically:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2009 TEX 113 419 391 48 93 15 1 21 59 0 24 150 .238 .284 .442 .726
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/7/2013.

While Davis still posted solid power numbers, his strikeout rate jumped to 35.8 percent, while his walk rate fell from 6.3 percent in 2008 to 5.7 percent in 2009. From that point on, Davis was up and down between Arlington and Triple-A Oklahoma City and Round Rock for the Rangers, posting some pretty lousy numbers along the way at the major league level:

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 24 TEX 45 136 120 7 23 9 0 1 4 3 15 40 .192 .279 .292 .571
2011 25 TEX 28 81 76 9 19 3 0 3 6 0 5 24 .250 .296 .408 .704
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/7/2013.

Davis was still mashing in the minors, though:

Year Age Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2010 24 AAA TEX 103 444 398 67 130 31 2 14 80 3 37 105 .327 .383 .520 .903
2011 25 AAA TEX 48 210 193 39 71 14 1 24 66 1 11 58 .368 .405 .824 1.229
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/7/2013.

Davis appeared to be a Quad-A player at the age of 25, and with the Rangers locking up Adrian Beltre, the presence of Michael Young, and the emergence both Mitch Moreland and Justin Smoak within the Rangers system during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he didn’t have room for error as a first baseman/third baseman/designated hitter within the Rangers’ system.

On July 30, 2011, the Rangers dealt Davis to the Baltimore Orioles with Tommy Hunter for Koji Uehara and cash considerations…and then…

Davis3After spending all of 10 games with the Orioles after the trade, Davis was sent to Double-A Bowie, getting another call when rosters expanded in September. In September, Davis hit .301/.341/.434 with eight doubles, one home run, and 10 RBI in 21 games; however, in 2012, Davis finally received an opportunity:

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2012 BAL 139 562 515 75 139 20 0 33 85 2 37 169 .270 .326 .501 .827
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/7/2013.

While the 30.1 percent strikeout rate is still pretty disheartening, as is the 169:37 K:BB, the .827 OPS and 33 home runs were pretty impressive. When you consider that Davis was just 26 and is entering his prime, it isn’t crazy to wonder how much more power he could show as he approaches 30.

While the strikeout rates aren’t very pretty, there are spots for players like Davis. Mike Morse, of the Seattle Mariners, is similar in having very little tolerance for watching pitches go by him without swinging. While Morse has a career strikeout rate of 21.8, superior to Davis’ 30.7 career rate , Davis does have a 6.5 percent career walk rate to Morse’s 5.9 percent walk rate; however, while people were drooling over Morse’s power potential after he hit 31 home runs in 2011 for the Washington Nationals at the age of 29, they forget about Davis’ potential, and at 27, he could become one of the best sluggers in baseball.
And, to date, Davis has done just that. Small sample size, certainly, but Davis is hitting .455/.500/1.136 with three doubles, four home runs, and all of 17 RBI in just six games this season. His ability to maintain production seems about as likely as a guy going through four organizations and doing very little before turning things around once given a full-time job in 2010…and Jose Bautista  only hit 124 home runs from 2010 through 2012, which led Major League Baseball during that time, while being the 6th most valuable position player in baseball (based on WAR). That seems to be going pretty well. Davis2

Now, the question is: Can Davis lead the Baltimore Orioles to another playoff appearance by powering a solid, young team along the way?

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