The Baltimore Orioles are headed into the second half of the season sitting atop the American League East with a four game lead on the Blue Jays. While players like Nelson Cruz and Adam Jones are having “All-Star” years, one player who was a former All Star is not: Chris Davis.
After an unbelievable season last year with a franchise record, 53 home runs, Davis has been struggling from the plate all season long. Some say he is still recovering from his oblique injury earlier in the season; others say he is just in a slump and will heat up in the second half of the season; and the rest of the fan base says the defensive shift that is being used on him is just crippling him as a batter.
The fact of the matter is the Chris Davis, fans are seeing this year, is not the same one they have grown to love over the past three seasons with Baltimore.
At the moment, Davis is batting .199. Just looking at his batting average, any fan would say this guy is hurting the team. They would be right if that was the only statistic we, as fans of the game, look at to judge and value players.
Davis still owns a .309 on-base percentage, which is only 15 points lower than Jones’ .324 on-base percentage. Also, Davis currently has the third-most home runs on the team with 15 round-trippers, and he has the third-most RBIs with 48.
So looking at his anticipated season totals of more than 30 home runs and close to 100 RBIs, is Davis really having that bad of a year? As long as his on-base percentage stays above .300, you cannot send him down to the Minors and you most certainly cannot bench him.
Whether pitchers admit it or not, Davis has an intimidation factor to him when he steps up to the plate because if he does connect with a pitch, he will drive it up and way over the wall. We saw this during the White Sox series when Davis got the pinch hit, walk-off three run homer. We saw this when he hit the two run home run against the Nationals in the 11th inning. And we most recently saw this against the Yankees when he hit the two-run home run to give the Orioles the lead which would ultimately be the decider in the rain-shortened Sunday night game just before the All Star Break.
Yes. Davis strikes out an awful lot for batting behind Cruz in the “five hole.” (106 times to be exact.) Nevertheless, his “hit or miss” style at the plate is very reminiscent of a ballplayer that grew up in Baltimore who played most of his career in Yankee pinstripes.
Babe Ruth will go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, to ever play this game. His 12 seasons of league-leading home runs are held in high regard in Cooperstown, New York and led to him being one of the first players inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
What is left out of the conversation when discussing these 12 seasons of Ruth’s career is that in five of these seasons, Ruth also led the Majors in strikeouts (1918, 1923, 1924, 1927, 1928). The Great Bambino was quoted for saying, “I swing big with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.”
This quote could be used as advice for Davis. No. 19 should not go up to the plate trying to change his mechanics. He should step into the batter’s box, stare down the pitcher, and when the ball is thrown he should swing for the fences with everything he has got. Baltimore calls their first baseman “Crush” and that is exactly what he should try to do every time he bats… Crush the ball!