Are the Baltimore Orioles purposely playing it safe in regards to Chris Davis?
Let me preface all of this by saying that the Baltimore Orioles will be a better team in 2016 with Chris Davis in the lineup. There’s no if’s and’s or but’s about that. However CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Rich DuBroff wrote this article on Sunday, which taps into an interesting point. Could the Birds be wary of a drop off in Davis’ production? Or perhaps more pertinently, should the Birds be wary of a drop off?
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DuBroff compares Davis to Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard, who of course was the face of that franchise for some time. Heck, I would submit that Philadelphia more than got their money’s worth over the years on Howard, especially given that they won a World Series during his tenure. However it’s no mystery that they’ve been trying to unload his contract over the course of the past couple of years. His production has spiraled downward, and his power has thus been zapped.
In terms of home run production, Howard had four truly outstanding years – 2006-2009. 2010 and 2011 were what I would call great years, with home run totals in the low 30’s. Now in fairness, Howard played a few fewer games than normal in those seasons – only playing 71 and 80 games in 2012 and 2013, however his production was well on it’s way to going downward. And that’s generally what happens to “honest players” (meaning those who don’t juice) when they get into their early to mid-30’s. And for the record, Howard is most definitely an honest player.
So DuBroff’s point is that the Orioles might well be playing it safe a bit in terms of Davis, looking to their neighbors to the north as an example. This is a bit of a warning to the crowd that says the Orioles should just ante up and sign Davis – no matter what the cost. Granted it’s tough to look the MLB home run king from 2015 in the eye and tell him now that his power might go away soon, but the fact is that’s always a possibility.
Possibility also means that there’s a possibility that it won’t happen. Many fans will argue that whatever their plight is now, Philadelphia won a World Series with Howard – which makes it worth it. And I might agree with that sentiment. However Howard was younger than Davis when they won that World Series. So does that make a difference?
Yes and no. Howard and Davis aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons. Nobody is such with anyone else. Heck, for all we know Davis will be in his mid-30’s before his power starts to go away. But the one thing we do
Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
know that’s inevitable is that his power will at some point go. It’s just a matter of when – not if.
Again, when, not if. The group who says sign him at all costs will argue that you just don’t know that he’ll be good for the long-term. Again, this is not to say that they shouldn’t sign him at all, because as I said the O’s are a better team right now with him than without him. But risking $150 million over seven years is a lot better than risking $200 million over eight.
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My personal opinion (based squarely on gut feeling is that Davis has 3-4 truly great or outstanding seasons left in him. But keep in mind that his strikeout total is also very high. So once his power starts to wane a bit, what exactly does he turn into? If Davis was capable of also hitting-for-average, he would probably be in better shape in terms of achieving that $200 million contract.
At the end of the day, you don’t want to get trapped into a contract that doesn’t make any sense. Again, Davis at $150 million over seven years might have it’s drawbacks. But you’re probably willing to make that deal. Going to $200 million? Big risk.