To those who don’t follow Orioles baseball, Davis’ numbers this year seem to have “come out of nowhere” (as has been written on Twitter). The guy hit 33 home runs last season. True, he’s got 30 as of Sunday morning, but still nothing to scoff at. When Davis first came up with the Rangers, he was hitting for impressive power. That’s where he got his nickname — Crush Davis. That is (according to my Rangers fan friend) until the power numbers dropped off and the strikeouts went up, and he was given a less friendly nickname.
When the Orioles acquired Chris Davis from the Texas Rangers, those in the Rangers organization knew that they were letting go of someone who could develop into a really dominant power hitter. The Orioles are now enjoying the success of one of the most feared hitters in the game this season.
O’s fans remember the broken bat home run Davis hit last year at Camden Yards. It was one of the most impressive feats of strength I’ve ever seen in a baseball game. He was left holding a splinter in his right hand, but the ball cleared the wall above the grounds crew in right center. The guy is strong.
The difference this year is pitch selection. Davis is being more discerning, swinging at fewer bad pitches, and working the count. (It’s what Adam Jones had been doing for the first 5 weeks of the season.) He seems more poised at the plate, and has more confidence in his knowledge of the strike zone. He’s using the whole field more, though many teams still employ the shift on him.
For those that think this is a fluke, they are wrong. Sure, teams are going to make adjustments and pitch him differently. But so far, he’s hitting just about everything. Both homers last night were on breaking balls.
Harold Reynolds remarked last night on MLB Network that Miguel Cabrera will definitely catch Davis in the home run race, and will win a second consecutive triple crown. He certainly may, but it’s not such a sure thing as Reynolds may think. Cabrera hit 44 homers last season to lead the league, a career high. Davis is currently projected to hit 59. Even if he falls short of that mark, Cabrera will need to hit at least ten more than his season high. I wouldn’t bet against Cabrera, but Davis will absolutely give him a run for his money.