I just noticed how bad Chris Davis has been this year

The Baltimore Orioles are on pace to win 47 games this season. As we witnessed first hand last weekend, the Trash Birds have been an unmitigated disaster due to horrendous pitching, underachieving offence, and, on top of everything, a historically-bad season from Chris Davis.

With a major hat tip to this extremely good post on MLB Reddit from u/Metlover, it’s absolutely shocking just how bad Davis has been so far in 2018.

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Davis, through 57 games and 229 plate appearances, has a whopping 23 wRC+ and a WAR of -2.0 that’s on pace to set a brand new all-time single-season low. Like, Davis is actually on pace to have the worst season statistically of all time.

The interesting thing about all of this is that Davis, who’s always been a boom-or-bust, swing for the fences kind of guy, is striking out and walking at a similar clip to what he did last year during a pretty-bad-but-not-this-bad season. According to Metlover, Davis’ historic struggles come down to him completely falling off a cliff when it comes to pulled balls.

Chris Davis is a pull hitter. Since 2014, Davis is 19th in Pull%, according to FanGraphs. Pulling the ball is not a bad thing neccesarily – there’s a lot of good hitters who pull the ball with similar regularity. And they’re generally very productive hits for Davis – his career 193 wRC+ on pulled batted balls is the same as Nolan Arenado, and in the same league as Brian Dozier and Nelson Cruz. So for much of his career, Davis being a pull hitter has not been a bad thing.

This year, it is a bad thing. It is a very bad thing. Oh my god, it’s awful.

Go on, read the whole post. It’s wild. Davis hasn’t hit safely on a single pulled ground ball all season. Seriously! It’s like the other team has constructed a wall between first and second base and Davis is hopelessly hitting into it no matter what he does.

Davis is incapable of beating out balls in the shift. He has extreme difficulty hitting balls over the shift. Davis is shifted on 90% of the time. So as much as I want to say that Davis can regress based on his xwOBA, he has no reason to do so! If he continues hitting like he is, he will not reach first base safely on a pulled ground ball once, baring an error of some sort. He’ll just get worse and worse. It’s entirely feasible that we break both single season WAR records this year – Mike Trout beating the positive WAR record, and Davis beating the negative.

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I hadn’t been paying that much attention to the Orioles, I guess, because I had no idea things had been this bad. Anyways, I just figured I should share this knowledge because I know how much everyone here enjoys watching the Trash Birds have a bad time. Like, I’m not usually one to cheer against guys and wish for misfortune, or anything like that. I think that sucks. But I feel a little bit of satisfaction seeing Davis struggle like this after openly shit-talking Jose Bautista for no real reason last year. 

  • Terry Mesmer

    Davis was lucky to sign his deal before GMs (very belatedly) learned the steroid era was over and not everyone over 30 maintained their primetime production (although Davis did get dinged for 25 games a few years back for using amphetamines).

    Davis is 32 this year. I checked Fangraphs for the number of players 32 or older who had 2.0 or more of fWAR, 1990-2017. Here’s the list: year/number of players fulfilling the criteria/top player and WAR fulfilling the criteria

    2017: 19 – Joey Votto 6.6 WAR
    2016: 21 – Robinson Cano 6.1 WAR
    2015: 24 – Curtis Granderson 5.3 WAR
    2014: 23 – Jose Bautista 6.2 WAR
    2013: 23 – Adrian Beltre 4.9 WAR
    2012: 27 – Adrian Beltre 6.3 WAR
    2011: 26 – Adrian Beltre 5.5 WAR
    2010: 32 – Andres Torres 6.3 WAR
    2009: 28 – Derek Jeter 6.6 WAR
    2008: 31 – Lance Berkman 7.7 WAR
    2007: 27 – Magglio Ordonez 8.0 WAR
    2006: 32 – Derek Jeter 6.1 WAR
    2005: 33 – Jim Edmonds 6.1 WAR
    2004: 34 – Barry Bonds 11.9 WAR
    2003: 31 – Barry Bonds 10.2 WAR
    2002: 29 – Barry Bonds 12.7 WAR
    2001: 32 – Barry Bonds 12.5 WAR
    2000: 29 – Barry Bonds 7.6 WAR
    1999: 37 – Randy Velarde 6.1 WAR
    1998: 29 – Barry Bonds/Mark McGwire 8.5 WAR
    1997: 27 – Barry Bonds 8.9 WAR
    1996: 34 – Ken Caminiti 7.5 WAR
    1995: 25 – Edgar Martinez 7.0 WAR
    1994: 18 – Cal Ripken 4.6 WAR
    1993: 29 – Tony Phillips 5.2 WAR
    1992: 19 – Ryne Sandberg 7.4 WAR
    1991: 20 – Wade Boggs 6.1 WAR
    1990: 20 – Alan Trammell 6.2 WAR

    1994 was shortened by strike to about 115 games.
    1995 was shortened by strike to about 145 games.
    1990, nine of the 20 became hall of famers.