Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles is slogging his way through a slump. So what cards can a hitter play to trump the power of the slump?
What slump is this of which I speak? Well, over the past 14 games since the beginning of the last road trip, Davis is 9-for-55 for a slash line of .164/.233/.273/.506. Seven of those hits were singles, two were homers. In that time he also has 24 strikeouts, and the number of groundouts into the over-shift in short right field would cause the calculator to explode.
By comparison, David Lough – no all-star for the Orioles this year – also has two homers over the same time, but has a slash line of .214/.333/.464/.798 over his past 14 games.
Chris Davis is going to figure this out to some extent at some time. I don’t know that we will ever see the Crush of 2013 again – few players in baseball history have EVER had a season like that.
But without doubt, Davis needs to play some trump to kick this slump in the rump, and get over the bump and out of the dump!
Why is this happening, and what does Davis need to do?
The factors are not simply one thing. But much of it has to do with the way he is being pitched after the breakout season of 2013. He is not getting much of anything to hit. But pitchers do make mistakes in the zone, and Davis has not capitalized on these errors with regularity. And there was also the issue of the oblique and time missed.
<UPDATE – Davis did not miss a ball over the plate in his first appearance tonight – two-run homer. Orioles fans everywhere can thank me for posting this five minutes before game time!>
But these issues combined together, in my view, are not as significant as the over-shift defenses deployed by opposing teams. For example, in 2013 he struck out in 29.7% of his plate appearances; this year it is 29.4%. So that has not changed. But Davis has been drilling hard-hit ball after ball right into the exact spots of the defenders.
In a report this morning from MASN’s Roch Kubatko, Davis said, “I’m tired of grounding out to the shift to be honest with you, especially when we’re playing these close ballgames … It’s frustrating when you hit a ball hard and the second baseman fields it and throws you out.”
It is frustrating to watch also.
Two nights ago, Davis dropped a bunt down the right-field line for a single. The question is if this signals a new strategy. I will say that I hope so… not suggesting that he bunts once per game, but that he works to use the whole field… that he goes with the outside pitch more often. Davis has the power to drive such balls into the stands, or at least into the left-field corner.
Until this happens; until Chris Davis trashes the effectiveness of the over-shift by hitting a high percentage against it, we are not going to see a Chris Davis that even begins to approach the season of 2013.
I have hopes that he is recognizing this need as well and planning on it, for he also said in Roch’s article when asked if he will be going toward more small ball, “If they continue to shift me as much as they have…” he said. … “At some point in time, you have to make an adjustment, especially if things are going poorly, like they are for me.”
Adjustments – that is the operative, key word. That is the trump card for a slump. It goes on all the time in this game. And without Chris Davis making this adjustment, we’re not going to even see a 30-homer, 90-RBI guy.