Baltimore Orioles Slugger Chris Davis Improves Batting Power Stats after Retooling Swing during Mid-Season Eight-Game Timeout
As every Baltimore Orioles fan knows all too well, slugger Chris Davis has been experiencing a complete power failure this season. His offensive production is way down in all categories, and especially noticeable is his season-long subterranean below-.200 batting average.
Because of his horrid start to the season, the powers-that-be in the Baltimore Orioles organization decided to put Davis in baseball timeout – benching him in June for eight games so that he could relearn the art of hitting a baseball.
The big question is whether this timeout actually accomplished anything. Is there evidence that Davis got his groove back?
The table below provides some of that evidence, as it consists of some of Davis’ pre-timeout and post-timeout batting stats presented side-by-side for easy comparison.
Davis appeared in 57 games before his sabbatical commenced, and he has played in 33 games since returning to the starting lineup.
At the start of the timeout, his batting average was a paltry .150, probably a level that should have had him demoted to the Double-A Bowie Baysox for an indefinite rehab assignment.
However, one does not demote to Double-A ball a player in the midst of a seven-year $161 million dollar contract. Hence, the search for a solution to the Chris Davis batting problem that would keep him on the major league roster.
In the first 57 games, Davis’ power output was downright anemic. He hit just four home runs and produced a paltry 15 runs batted in. These figures project out to 11 home runs and 43 RBIs for a full season, far far below his production from previous seasons as an Oriole.
Comparable numbers for Davis from a disappointing 2017 season are 26 home runs and 61 RBIs while posting a .215 batting average. Clearly, Davis was on the wrong side of a steep downward trend.
The other key stat from the table is the strikeout number. Davis has become notorious for averaging about 200 strikeouts per season, a concession perhaps to his swing-for-the-fences batting style.
Last year, Davis struck out 195 times in 128 games (projecting to 247 strikeouts per 162-game season), and this season before his timeout he already had 85 strikeouts and was on pace for a 242 season total.
Interestingly, despite his eye-popping drop in offensive production, Davis’ strikeout rate remained almost identical this season as compared to last season. So, his lack of hitting was not accompanied by an increase (or decrease) in strikeouts.
After sitting on the bench for eight games and focusing on retooling his once ferocious swing, Davis has returned to play 33 games. His post-timeout stats show that he has improved remarkably.
His post-timeout batting average (.174), though still quite low, is 16 percent higher than it was earlier in the season.
Davis has hit nine home runs and knocked in 20 since the timeout ended, and both figures project well for a full season: 44 home runs and 98 RBIs. These are the kind of numbers that justify high-dollar long-term contracts.
Interestingly, Davis has struck out 43 times since his return from the Orioles’ Pit of Misery, a pace that projects to 211 for a full season, and a number that is 13 percent lower than his pre-timeout strikeout rate.
Rows in the table labeled “.250+” and “.000” (located near the bottom of the table) refers to the number of games where Davis hits for at least a .250 average and those games where he remains hitless (.000).
Because a .250 BA would be great for Davis, I was curious to see how many games he played where he hit at that level (e.g., mostly games where he has at least one hit). I then wanted to compare that figure to the number of his hitless games (.000).
Not surprisingly, his post-timeout numbers are much better than his pre-timeout numbers.
Before his timeout, Davis went hitless in almost 60 percent of his games. Post-timeout, his hitless rate dropped below 50 percent. That’s a 19 percent improvement.
Davis has experienced a 28 percent increase in the number of games where his batting average is at least .250 (e.g., going 1-for-4). This represents a remarkable turnaround.
Clearly, the work put in by Chris Davis during and since his eight-game benching has produced noteworthy improvement. His season-long projections for most batting categories (with the notable exception of batting average) are comparable to his great 2013 (53 homers) and 2015 (47 homers) seasons.
Only time will tell if these improvements stick, or whether Davis will begin trending downward at some point. Either way, we’re going to be seeing a lot of Davis in the Baltimore Orioles lineup because he’s still in the middle of that very pricey long-term contract.