The Baltimore Orioles have seen enough from Chris Davis this season. The once-feared hitter, whom Baltimore committed a whopping $161 million to prior to the 2016 season, will not play in any of the team’s final three games.
The decision is not injury related, according to reports from Baltimore. There’s simply no point in watching Davis struggle any more than they already have.
Davis, 32, will finish the season in a 1-for-37 slump. Worse yet, he will finish the season with the worst qualified batting average in Major League Baseball history.
Chris Davis finishes with a -3.2 WAR and a .168 batting average.
That’s the lowest BA among qualifying players in Major League baseball history.
— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) September 28, 2018
To be considered a qualified hitter, a batter must reach 502 plate appearances in a given season. That averages out to 3.1 plate appearances per team game. Davis is at 522.
There’s no way around it. It’s the literal worst season we’ve ever seen from a big league hitter, and it comes just three years into Davis’ massive seven-year contract.
The 11-year veteran has always been an all-or-nothing hitter at the plate. He’s struck out at least 169 times each season dating back to 2012. His 1,696 career strikeouts are far more than this 1,099 career hits.
Davis has typically made up for the lack of contact with pure power. During that same time he’s hit 239 home runs, including a league-leading 53 in 2013 and 47 in 2015. It’s that power that prompted Baltimore to pay up once Davis hit free agency following the 2015 season.
What’s gone wrong?
The power hasn’t completely disappeared this season. Davis has 16 homers in 522 plate appearances, which is a number many players would take. Unfortunately, Davis has contributed next to nothing elsewhere, leading to a miserable .168/.243/.296 batting line.
The American League average OPS this season is .734.
If Chris Davis played in each of the Orioles’ last four games, going 5-for-5 with 5 home runs in each, his OPS at the conclusion of the season would be .718.
— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) September 28, 2018
The next lowest qualified batting average in MLB history is .179, posted by Rob Deer in 1991 and Dan Uggla in 2013. With Davis needing a miraculous finish to even approach that number, the rebuilding Orioles have decided to get some young players at-bats in the final series.
What’s next for Chris Davis?
The Orioles obviously won’t be able to trade Davis like they have with several other veteran stars this season. They’ll have to hope the offseason will lead to adjustments and improvements next season. Otherwise, they’ll be facing a decision on whether to eat the large contract or use Davis in a reduced role. Neither would be ideal, and perhaps the Orioles already know their plan.
Chris Davis Day
Regardless, the Orioles will be paying Davis for a long time. As part of his contract, the Orioles will be paying him a yearly lump of $2.8 million every year from 2023 through 2037.
It’s the Orioles’ version of Bobby Bonilla Day. Since Bonilla agreed to a deferred money deal in 1999, the New York Mets have been cutting him a check for $1.19 million every July 1. That will continue through 2035.
Bobby Bonilla Day came first, so that will likely always earn top billing. But Chris Davis Day could sting the Orioles twice as much, barring a remarkable career turnaround.
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