BALTIMORE—After what many are calling the worst season in baseball history, Chris Davis insists that’s not going to happen again, and the Orioles won’t lose 115 games in 2019.
“I’m ready to get it started,” Davis said on Saturday at FanFest. “I’m ready to put last year behind us.”
Davis, who’s beginning the fourth year of a seven-year, $161-million contract, batted .168 with 192 strikeouts in 128 games.
“By the time the season ended, I was just so tired that I was ready to turn the page,” Davis said. “And I had a lot of work to do, not a whole lot of time for me to sit there and feel sorry for myself. I wanted to explore a lot of options as far as my offense was concerned, my nutrition and training, and so I felt the clock was ticking.”
Davis, who will turn 33 on March 17, said he’s lost weight.
“I’m a little bit lighter,” Davis said. “Everybody keeps telling me I look skinny. I think that’s a compliment. I feel good. I feel more ready this time this year than I did last year, and that’s saying a lot because I felt like I was going to have a really good year last year.”
Davis said that this offseason he’s worked with hitting coaches who knew him 10 years ago when the was Texas.
“Going through last season, going through that failure day-in and day-out really got me to the point where it was like, ‘now, we’ve got to exhaust all options and really take a step back and make an adjustment,’” he said.
“I don’t feel like I’m an old man. I don’t feel like I’ve lost a step.”
In 2018, Davis hit just 16 home runs and drove in 49 runs, his lowest full-season totals as an Oriole.
“Anything above what I did last year would, I guess, be considered successful,” Davis said. “For me, it’s getting back to the player that I was in 2013, 2012 and 2015, years that I was productive—even in ’16—just being a threat in the lineup, being a guy that produces runs that his teammates can count to be there on both sides of the baseball. That for me, is where I’m going to define a successful season.
“I’m never been a guy to throw out a lot of numbers, but to continue this path that I’ve been on the last couple of years and make no adjustment and make no strides in a different direction, I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to go through another season like I did last year, and I don’t think that will happen. I really don’t.”
In 2013 and 2015, Davis led the major leagues in home runs, and in 2013 led baseball in RBIs, too.
“I don’t physically feel like I’ve lost a step,” Davis said. “I don’t feel like I’ve lost any ability. If anything I have a lot more perspective than I had a couple of years ago. I still feel like I’m at the top of my game.”
Davis took enforced breaks during the season, sitting out for eight games in June and didn’t play in the season’s final eight games, ending the season in an 0-for-21 skid.
“It did get to a point last year where mentally it was too much for me to handle,” Davis said. “I wasn’t opening up or sharing any of that with anybody. I was trying to keep it all in and be professional. It took its toll on me, and I think it was very obvious and easy to see.”
Davis couldn’t imagine that he’d be on a team that lost 115 games.
“I, in no way, fulfilled my responsibility or my duties in terms of production,” Davis said. “But at the end of the day, the two best seasons I had statistically, we didn’t sniff the playoffs. It just goes to show that no one man can carry a team.
“As hot as Manny Machado was at times last year, we were still losing games. As well as Alex [Cobb] threw the ball down the stretch, we were still losing. You can’t put it on one person. It’s not fair, and it’s just not right.
“That doesn’t mean you can neglect responsibility or not accept accountability. It didn’t feel real going through it. I was just kind of numb to it. Maybe it was because I had so much going on personally. Maybe it was because we had won here for so long. I don’t want guys to think this is what it looks like. In my mind, that’s a fluke. It’s not going to happen again.”
When Davis walked among Orioles fans at the Baltimore Convention Center, he found them to be supportive.
“I can’t tell you how many people have walked up to me and encouraged me,” Davis said. “Praised me for the way that I carried myself, for the way that we handled ourselves as a team going through that and told me how excited they were for this year. That, to me, is life-giving. After everything that went on last year, all the emotions tied to it, and not knowing what it was going to look like, it’s been exciting for me, and made me want to get down to Sarasota even more.”