Let’s talk about Chris Davis for a moment. MLB players have breakout seasons all of the time. Bypassing some obvious (and debatable) cases, breakout seasons do happen. Some are changes made in a player’s swing – like Jose Bautista and Curtis Granderson becoming yearly 40-homer guys. Some are outlier years, like Jacoby Ellsbury having a 32 HR/105 RBI season in 2011 (he hasn’t hit more than 9 HRs or 60 RBIs in any other season). Then you have the curious case of Chris Davis. Stick with me, folks.
What if I told you Miguel Cabrera is on pace to have a better season than his Triple Crown season of 2012? Now, what if I told you Chris Davis has equal to or better numbers than Miguel across the board? Are we still reading? Good. Because it’s happening. And to be fair, we should start taking notice.
Once the 1,496th pick in the 2004 MLB Draft out of high school, Chris Davis decided to skip the Yankees offer (which was probably $0.00) and go to college. Spurning the Angels in 2005 when they selected him, Davis ultimately went to the Rangers in the 2006 draft. After a few homer-happy seasons in Arlington, in which he played sparingly due to an extremely high strikeout rate (which was an Adam Dunn-like 35.8% of the time in 2008), Davis was traded along with World Series-starting Tommy Hunter for Koji Uehara. Appearing to be an afterthought of that trade, Hunter was soon demoted, Uehara soon bolted for the Red Sox, and Chris Davis was belting 33 HRs for the Orioles last season.
Enter 2013 Chris Davis.
This year, he is absolutely mashing the ball. For the month of May, he’s currently batting .370 with 10 HR, 22 RBI, and has a 1.257 OPS – the company he’d keep in that category if he kept that pace has some amazing names. One of the reasons for his recent success – because he always had the power – is lowering his K-rate to 21.9%. That means over the course of the season, and estimating around 600 plate appearances, he’s getting ~90 more PAs where he’s not striking out. And he is turning those PAs mostly into 2Bs, HRs, or BBs, which has him projecting to around 60 HRs and 150 RBIs. Not too shabby. If you take Justin Ruggiano away from the Marlins (8 HRs), Davis would be on pace to hit the same amount of home runs as that entire Miami team. It’s like someone gave him a good-luck chimp or something.
Davis does have an extremely high BABIP (.392) which is almost a full 100 points higher than the average major leaguer. This will come down eventually. However, if he keeps hitting balls out of the park there will be no batted balls in play to field.