Time will tell if the Chris Davis Leadoff Experiment officially ended today, but it is on brief hiatus, regardless.
The Orioles released their lineup for this afternoon’s series finale in Houston and Tim Beckham is leading off against Astros ace lefty Dallas Keuchel.
In fact, Davis, who has led off each of the Orioles’ first five games, isn’t in the lineup at all.
In his career against Keuchel, Davis is 2-for-14 (.143) with one RBI and five strikeouts. In contrast, right-handed hitting Danny Valencia, who is starting at first base Wednesday, is 8-for-22 (.364) with two homers and four RBIs versus Keuchel.
Given those numbers, Davis taking a seat in an afternoon game against a tough lefty is not that surprising.
But it’s newsworthy because it ends the slugging Davis’s streak of leading off games at five; it’s something he had never done in his 11 seasons in the big leagues before last week.
The experiment hasn’t gone well – Davis was 1-for-20 in the Orioles first five games, walking three times and fanning five times in the leadoff spot. He was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts Tuesday, the Orioles’ fourth loss in five chances.
Manager Buck Showalter wanted to see if using Davis, normally a middle-of-the-order bat, at leadoff would help take pressure of the slugger, cut down on his strikeouts and take advantage of his propensity to walk (a team-leading 61 walks last year and a career .327 OBP mark).
It’s worked in the past, jumpstarting slow patches by Manny Machado and Adam Jones, among others.
Beckham, who has a .308 career on-base percentage, isn’t a typical leadoff man either, but he filled the role 48 times last season (with a .259 average and .302 OBP).
Here is the Orioles’ lineup Wednesday: Beckham 5, Machado 6, Schoop 4, Jones DH, Mancini 7, Valencia 3, Santander 9, Joseph 2, Gentry 8. Bundy 1.