The Baltimore Orioles and slugger Chris Davis have a love-hate relationship. Does he fit into the Orioles future, if at all?
During the 2013 Baltimore Orioles season, everyone in central Maryland loved Chris Davis. Despite watching the Orioles miss out on the postseason after earning a berth the previous year, Orioles fans the world over still had Chris Davis’s magnificent season to be proud of.
With extraordinary power, Davis slammed fifty-three home runs and produced a respectable .286 batting average. As a result, Davis established himself as one of the most dangerous power hitters in Major League Baseball. It seemed like he could knock the ball out of the park effortlessly.
The fact that he was a lefty in a righty-dominated lineup was merely the icing on the cake. Chris Davis seemed genuinely destined for success. Unfortunately, everything isn’t always what it seems, especially for Davis.
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After his incredible 2013 campaign, Chris Davis proceeded to post a deplorable .196 batting average in 2014 and missed the end of the season as well as the postseason due to a PED suspension.
But even the greatest players on the planet have down seasons, and that’s precisely what many Orioles fans thought was at play. Fast forward to the 2015 season, Davis rebounded with a .262 batting average and forty-seven home runs. Crush Davis was back to hitting like his old self-right when, conveniently for him, his contract expired.
And so the Orioles re-signed Davis to a massive, seven-year contract. In fact, it happened to be the largest contract in Baltimore Orioles franchise history. Davis proved himself to be a valuable asset and could make a significant difference in the future success of the ball club. The fans loved him, and that, along with his considerably good stats, was enough to bring him back to Baltimore.
Davis’ pre-contract to post-contract performances have proven to be like two completely different human beings. During the first season of his new contract, his batting average plummeted forty-one points from the season prior. The only significant stat of his that didn’t take a sharp tumble was his strikeout count, which increased from 208 in 2015 to 219 in 2016.
The 2017 season turned out unfortunate for Davis who batted at a .215 clip coupled with a pedestrian twenty-six homers. Most noteworthy, a player that signs as an elite power hitter, is a disgraceful downward trend.
Now the Orioles are faced with a significant dilemma. Davis has been nothing short of a crippling hole in the team’s lineup for the past two years, but they’re paying him a ridiculous amount of money. The once impressive slugger is also nearing his thirty-second birthday, so the odds would suggest that Davis is on the backend of his career. And, with that considered, the Orioles have to make a change.
The sad, but very real, the truth is that Chris Davis just doesn’t fit into the future of the Baltimore Orioles. Trey Mancini is a flourishing young hitter who can play the outfield but is a natural first baseman with spectacular defensive talent.
Austin Hays and Chance Sisco are promising prospects who need to be given substantial roles in the lineup to build Major League confidence. There’s no more extended room for an aging first baseman who strikes out roughly two-hundred times each year while batting near the Mendoza line. Keeping Chris Davis in the lineup will only hinder the development of the team’s prospects and the success of the ball club as a whole.
The Orioles need to do absolutely everything they can to shop Davis to other teams. The chances of another team wanting to incur Davis’s contract, along with his lack of productivity, are slim to none, but Duquette needs to try if he hasn’t already.
If that fails to work, then Orioles management should reach out to Davis and his agent about a possible contract reconstruction. It should be made very clear that Davis’s contract prevents the team from making other crucial signings and efficiently destines Davis to years of being on a subpar team.
And, if all else fails, Chris Davis may need to just sit on the bench. While his lack of offensive ability prevents him from being a suitable everyday player nowadays, there’s no doubt that Davis would be an above-average backup and pinch-hitter.
As painful as it may be to pay a player so much money to be a backup, the spot in the lineup may just be more valuable than the money at this point.
There’s no use in cutting Davis because the Orioles would eat his contract regardless, but keep him on board as a backup seems like the closest thing to an ideal solution amidst a very tricky situation.