The Orioles will enter their 2012 camp with a lot of question marks still lingering from the end of 2011. The most important question mark will pertain to the starting lineup.
The current speculation is that the O’s will start Mark Reynolds at 3rd base and Chris Davis at 1st. Statistically these 2 hitters possess 2 tools at the plate… Home Runs and Strikeouts.
Many O’s fans view Reynolds as a guy who has no glove, no average but could hit the long ball. To his credit, his game improved once he across the diamond moved to become the everyday 1st baseman. In the last 4 years Reynolds has hit above .239 once and has totaled over 190 strikeouts every single year. Hey, at least he’s consistent.
In his 5 big league seasons Reynolds has a total of 108 errors. That’s an average of over 20 errors per season. That’s the frustrating aspect of his game that must improve. The Orioles can manage with the strikeouts and batting average as long as he can deliver the long ball; the errors however are unacceptable.
That’s Mark Reynolds. And truthfully a team can live with one lineup spot designated to a guy that has potential to hit the long ball every time he steps in the box yet has a low average and is prone to the K. The Orioles’ problem… they may have his left handed clone.
That brings us to Chris Davis.
Davis is a very intriguing prospect because he has proven time and time again that he can hit with the best of them in the minor leagues. However he has yet to put it together at the Major League level.
A former 5th round pick, Davis’ best year came in 2008 with Texas where he compiled at .285 average with 17 home runs and 55 RBI’s in 80 games. The following year in 2009 he hit 21 home runs with 59 RBI’s but only hit .238 in 113 games. That year Davis was found walking back to the dugout 150 times via strikeout. Throughout his minor league career Davis averages about a strikeout per game.
Since 2009 Davis has found himself a lot on plane flying to and fro Texas and their triple A affiliate in Oklahoma City. He just can’t seem to hit in a major league park. It’s truly mindboggling because he has a career .318 minor league average and in just 48 games with Triple A Round Rock in 2011, he hit .368 with 24 home runs and 66 RBI’s. Those numbers in just 48 games are superior to his numbers every year with Texas and Baltimore.
The key to Davis… DO NOT take advice from Mark Reynolds. Davis’ power is undeniable but his average must improve for the Orioles to rely on him to be an every day player. His defense is solid and hopefully for the Orioles it’s just a matter of time before he puts up numbers like he has consistently in the minors.
If he ends up hitting like Mark Reynolds with a low average and high number of strikeouts, Baltimore may be in big trouble. Davis just may be the dark horse in determining the Orioles success in 2012.