Judging by Chris Davis’ last swing of Thursday night’s game against the Marlins at Camden Yards, there’s nothing amiss with the 34-year-old slugger.
He hit a double to left-centerfield to give the Orioles a potential rally-starting hit. He later scored on a single from Pedro Severino, but the Orioles couldn’t muster any more offense in an 8-7 loss.
Davis’ double was a welcome one, for both the Orioles and Davis, but it’s been a tough start to the year for Davis once again.
Through seven games played this season, he’s 2-for-23 with two doubles, a batting average of .087. He’s getting on base at a .160 clip and has a slugging percentage of .174. It hasn’t been the resurgence he was hoping for.
“We’ve had some conversations the last couple days,” manager Brandon Hyde said after Thursday’s game. “I thought he swung the bat very aggressive tonight. Even the first AB on the punch out, I was good with it. He swung with some intent. Foul ball back, foul ball pulled hard. Next at-bat he drove a ball, that I thought was gone, but it kind of hung up. But had a really nice swing and barreled the baseball. And then that double there at the end. I just wanted him to be more aggressive early in the count.”
Davis has drawn just two walks and has struck out six times as the poor start has quelled some of the excitement built for him at the outset of the season.
And the underlying numbers, through a very small sample size, aren’t promising.
Against the Red Sox, the argument could be made Davis was simply unlucky. He had a few hard-hit balls that just didn’t land, but it wasn’t any reason for concern. His double against the Red Sox at the end of the series looked like it could be a bounce-back for Davis. In fact, despite the 1-for-11 performance in Boston, he swung the bat well.
Since then, though, the trends are concerning.
According to Statcast, his average exit velocity on batted balls is 85.7 mph, which over a full season, would be three and a half mph less than his 89.1 mph he posted a year ago. His expected batting average (xBA) is just .138 and his expected slugging percentage is just .185. While those numbers suggest he has gotten slightly unlucky at the start of the season, it’s still not the start Davis was looking for.
Had he gotten a few of those hits to drop in Boston, perhaps his 2-for-23 start looks a lot better than it does on paper right now.
Davis’ game on Thursday was, when he made contact, promising. He made contact three times with hits of 105.3, 93.8 and 88.7 mph. His flyout in the fourth inning, a flyout Hyde thought was a home run, had an expected batting average of .450.
His poor stretch in the last three games was certainly enough to make fans grumble once again, but with a few more solid connections and some luck, a respectable season could be in order for Davis.
Davis’ days of 53 home runs in a season are gone, and the expectation isn’t that he’ll become one of the league’s best power hitters again. But it’s not out of the question for him to become a decent middle-of-the-order bat for the Orioles this season.
Hyde has stressed being more aggressive at the plate with Davis, and as he showed Thursday night, he’s more than capable of putting a drive into a few baseballs — if he gets a hold of one.
“I want him when he swings the bat to have some presence and swing with some intent,” Hyde said. “And he did that better tonight.”
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