Looking at Chris Davis, especially over the past few seasons, you have to wonder something: could this have been avoided? Could the Orioles’ former Dan Duquette-led brain trust have anticipated that Chris Davis would crater over the last few years and tie up resources the now-rebuilding team could’ve used elsewhere?
Now, let’s not get it confused here. Chris Davis wasn’t very good last year. Nor was he very good in 2017, but let’s talk 2018. Yes, he had sixteen homers, but it was against a .168 batting average, almost 200 strikeouts, and only 48 RBIs. Granted, 192 is better than the 219 he put up in 2016…until you realize Davis played in about 30 less games last year.
Yes, he was probably better than my 5’7″ self would’ve ever been last year outside of MLB The Show. However, being better than me at baseball when I haven’t played competitively since puberty isn’t that much of an accomplishment. That’s especially when Davis is making over $21M the next four years, then will get his Bobby Bonilla on until 2037, to be a few steps below “meh.” Add that to the fact that power-only first basemen aren’t being as loved in MLB as they once were–in fact, quite a few either opt to play overseas or troll the minors for a call up–and you’ve got something along the lines of an albatross contract for the Orioles.
But, could this have been avoided? Kind of.
Davis was, like every human being alive, due for regression as he got older. No one–well, no one reasonably sane–expects him to crack 50 homers a year, every year from here until retirement. Plus, he’s always been prone to strikeouts as a go big or go home sort of player. The only seasons where he didn’t strikeout at least 150 times were the ones where he played less than 113 games. However, I feel that, while the Orioles played themselves by giving him this deal (sorry), he’s also been the victim of some very, very, very bad luck. Should the Orioles have given him $110M+? Maybe not. But, even without that “albatross” around their necks, he seems like he’s been jinxed. I mean, no one goes out and actively says “hey, let’s suck the most we can today,” right?
In the 219 strikeout season of 2016, Davis still manged to hit 36 home runs and drive in 84 RBIs. Buck Showalter always trotted Davis out there because reasons and rarely gave him a night off. He never got the analytical data he could’ve used to adjust his swing. Half of the team was gutted last year and that probably dampened morale. The Orioles of 2018 were a dumpster fire as a whole (I still loved them, though). Davis was busy going back and forth with Jim Palmer over his regiment and didn’t have his head in the game. These are all excuses/reasons for 2018. Some of them are good, some aren’t. However, they all point to the possibility of improvement in 2019. Buck Showalter, as great as he was, is gone. The new FO seems dedicated to analytics to aid them.
On top of that, the Orioles aren’t playing for anything except trying to not lose 115 games again. So, with that in mind, Chris Davis resting more, having Trey Mancini and Mark Trumbo back to possible spell him, and trying new things may render him more efficient this year…right?
…or not. However, I’ll remain positive. Why Not? 2019 could be a thing, considering that in 1988, the O’s caught all of the Ls and bounced back the next year. Now, Cedric Mullins, Jonathan Villar, Yusniel Diaz, and Chris Davis aren’t exactly Brady, Cal, and Steve Finley. But hey! Stranger things have happened.