On Friday afternoon, information surfaced about the Baltimore Orioles benching first baseman Chris Davis for the remainder of the 2018 season. The question is, why now?
He’ll finish the season with a line of .168/.243/.296 with 16 homers, just 12 doubles and 192 strikeouts. And as we’ve all been made aware, his .168 AVG is the worst in MLB history among qualified batters.
Davis will close out the 2018 season with the lowest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage of all qualified hitters in MLB. He has the highest strikeout rate in baseball, and his 7.9% walk rate is his worst since 2012.
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We’ve known for a long time now that the 2018 version of Chris Davis is a broken one. So why have manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles decided now, with just a couple games left to play, to bench Davis in favor of younger players on the roster?
Were Showalter and the Orioles holding out hope that Davis would turn his season around, and not post one of the worst seasons ever for a hitter on record? Is ownership forcing management to continue to play Davis on a daily basis due to his exorbitant salary?
After this season, Davis has 4 years and around $92 million left on his contract. It seems unlikely that the Orioles would be willing to walk away from the contract and eat that money, and it seems impossible that the Orioles would be able to move Davis in a trade.
If there’s a bright side, which there really isn’t, it’s that Davis isn’t necessarily blocking any specific prospects from playing time. Since Mark Trumbo injured his knee and was deemed out for the season, Davis has split time with Trey Mancini, and the Orioles have been able to cycle players through the DH spot.
The question here with the decision to bench Davis for the last couple games of 2018 is why was the decision made now, and who was it made by? The Orioles have seen for months now that Davis doesn’t have it this year. But what is there to gain by publicly announcing that Davis will sit for the last week of the season?
This just feels like a meaningless move made at the end of a long, trying season. This could’ve been done in early September to give some of the late-season call-ups real chances at the plate, but by waiting this long, and making this decision before a series with an Astros team who’ve clinched their playoff seeding already, the Orioles aren’t giving their prospects ideal opportunities against major league pitching.
This move seems to just further suggest an ineptitude concerning decision-making from this Orioles organization. They’re not sure what they want to do, and they aren’t particularly quick to act.
Hopefully we don’t see more of this indecision about whether or not Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette will return in 2019.