The most interesting thing that occurred this weekend at Camden Yards — for me, anyway, was Chris Davis being out of the lineup for two consecutive games.
That and manager Buck Showalter’s discussion about Davis during his pre-game conference Sunday. You can read everything Showalter said in this piece that ran Sunday afternoon.
What struck me the most about Showalter’s thoughts was his final one.
He said, “I think Chris loves to play baseball and he loves playing the game within the game. … What happens is you’re trying to get it back with three homers in a game and two more and this one 480 feet, you know. When you drive in 100-plus runs, you are hitting some two-out singles, OK? … But it’s there. It’s there.”
That’s what I want to discuss today in the Tap Room.
Do you believe it’s still there for Chris Davis?
I mean, the guy led the American League in homers in 2015 — it wasn’t that long ago.
But, in watching Davis these past two-plus seasons, it also seems like forever ago.
His homer totals and average have dropped dramatically since 2015. This year, he has only two homers and two doubles in 101 plate appearances — for a batting average of .167 and a slugging percentage of .256.
That’s not what the Orioles thought they were getting when they signed Davis to a franchise-record, seven-year, $161 million deal in January 2016.
There are plenty of theories for Davis bottoming out. But most can be shot down. Yes, Davis still has his therapeutic use exemption for ADHD medication. Yes, his eyesight is fine (he’s said in the past that his eyesight is actually better than 20-20).
Yes, the constant shifting has hurt his average. Yes, he’s a power guy who is accustomed to being a power guy and hasn’t changed that approach when the ball isn’t flying off the bat. Yes, Davis has explored help with the mental side of the game. Yes, the expectations of that huge contract weighs on him. (It would on any of us.)
Whatever you want to throw out there, the Orioles and Davis have looked into it. And Davis has continued to struggle.
Today, I don’t want your theories on what’s wrong with Davis. Or how to fix him. Frankly, none of us know.
And, really, suggestions on what to do with him are moot, too. The Orioles aren’t eating that contract, no one is trading for it and he can’t be sent to the minors given his contractual/service time status. Ultimately, it would end up being a situation where they’d have to eat the money anyway and he could go elsewhere for a fresh start. A potential lose-lose for the Orioles.
So Davis, 32, is an Oriole for the next several years.
That leaves us to today’s question: Do you believe it is still there with Davis?
I mean, it’s hard to believe someone that talented can drop off this quickly. But it happens plenty in a game so difficult — especially as guys get into their 30s.
Davis has bounced back from rough seasons before — in between his best two campaigns, 2013 and 2015, he batted .196 in 127 games in 2014.
So, there’s history there, too, for a rebound if this isn’t a traditional decline.
This is fascinating to me. And I want your opinion. Because, frankly, none of us can truly predict what’s going to happen. But we all have our thoughts.
Is Showalter right? Is Davis’ talent and ability to hit a baseball still there? Or is this rock bottom with no return?
Tap-In Question: Is Davis’ hitting ability still ‘there’ or do you think he’ll never be able to rekindle what made him such a feared hitter?