Baltimore Orioles Spring Training: Six Bold Predictions

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Sep 5, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman

Chris Davis

(19) against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Davis will have a big spring, but a mediocre year …

After the horrendous season from hell that Chris Davis endured in 2014, it may be forgotten that he had a terrific spring training just a year ago. He looked every bit as good as in the 2013 campaign. Davis was 15-for-37 (.405) with 13 RBIs and 4 home runs in Florida last year.

Then the regular season happened. Oblique. Overshifts. Suspension. You know the story.

Two of the three items above are fixed. The injury is gone, and the ADHD medication issue is solved. But the overshifts remain.

I expect his spring training to be excellent. Some of this is due to the notorious nature of the spring and the caliber of pitching being faced. So look for a .300+ average as the regular season approaches. The power will be there, as it always will be – when contact is made with the ball, which last year did not happen 30% of the time.

I love the guy, but I’m pessimistic about what he is to do in order to get back to something remotely approaching 2013. I am afraid he has been “figured out” and is a victim of sabermetrically-constructed defensive alignments and pitching strategies.

Davis bunted in his first at-bat in the intra-squad game. He has talked about incorporating some more of that into his approach. But it is not an answer by itself. In a really excellent article on Camden Depot, the writer lists the 8-9 guys who had more shifts thrown against them than Davis, and writes about how many had successful bunts. The number is incredibly small.

It is easy to say that Davis needs to hit to the opposite field and spray the ball around rather than drive it to right all the time, often into the teeth of the defense. But teams are pitching him to hit into the defense deployed, of course.

So Davis is going to get home runs when pitchers miss their spots. He is also going to hit hard balls right at perfectly-positioned defenders, balls that would be a hit for anyone else. I believe he will have an improved season over 2014, hitting perhaps in the .220s or .230s with 30-35 home runs. He will be a “rich man’s Mark Reynolds.” And after the season, it will be up to teams to determine how much that sort of player is worth.

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