I have a confession to make, I’ve never hit a home run. I don’t know what it feels like for my bat to connect with the ball in such a way that it sails into the sky & never touches the ground. A guy who does know what it feels like to hit home runs, lots of them, is Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. Davis is off to one of the hottest statistical starts to a season since baseball purists starting keeping track of statistics. Let’s try to break it down.
So far this season, Davis has come to the plate 15 times, emerging with 9 hits, 4 home runs (including a tie breaking grand slam in the home opener win against Minnesota), 3 doubles, 16 RBIs, and 1 walk while striking out just once. To put that strikeout number in perspective, Davis struck out 169 times in 139 games last season. As I alluded to in the headline, Adam Jones explained Davis’s hot start by saying, “See ball, hit ball.” There seems to be an effortlessness to his swing, pitches that other players would be reaching for are right in the wheelhouse of the guy nicknamed Crush Davis.
To add another level of impressive to Chris Davis’s hot start, he actually has home runs in 11 consecutive regular season games, dating back to last season when he ended the year on a tear, hitting seven home runs in the final seven games. According to the statistics department of ESPN, the biggest improvement that Davis has made has been against right handed pitchers. Nine of his 16 RBIs have come against right-handed pitchers after having the fifth-highest miss percentage (31.9 percent according to ESPN) last season as well as 136 of his 169 strikeouts. In a post-game conversation with MASN’s Steve Melewski, Davis alluded to something that befell both himself and former Oriole Mark Reynolds last season when he said he’s “being selective and making sure I’m swinging at good pitches. There were times last year when I was too aggressive and ended up getting myself out. Patience paid off.”
While it is obviously too early to tell how long Davis’s hot streak with last, it has given the team and the fans a confidence boost and kept the Orioles right in the conversation of the American League East. As players and fans know all too well, this season is a marathon, not a sprint. With the departure of Jim Thome, the veteran presence of Brian Roberts is very much needed, so here’s hoping his knee heals fully and quickly so he can rejoin his teammates.
Adam Jones is off to an impressive start as well with 10 hits, 8 runs, and 4 RBIs over his first 19 at bats. The meat of the order, Jones and Davis, along with Matt Wieters and JJ Hardy will be counted on to drive in the guys at the top and the bottom of the order, including 2nd year phenom Manny Machado.
As the team heads into game 2 of this series with the Twins, here’s a little food for thought, no player in the history of Major League Baseball has homered in five straight games to start a season. There’s a first time for everything, will Davis set a new standard? That remains to be seen, but Camden Yards seems to have adopted Seven Nation Army as its unofficial theme song too, so it will be fun to watch and see if the “ooh oh oh oh oh oooh oh” will bring the luck to the Orioles that the Ravens discovered on their way to the Super Bowl. Welcome back, baseball!