After another frustrating season with the Orioles, this one due to a knee injury, Chris Davis is making mechanical changes to his swing this offseason in an attempt to salvage the tail end of his Orioles career.
Since signing a seven-year, $161 million deal in January of 2016, Davis has not enjoyed the slugging success he had earlier in his career. In fact, Davis hasn't batted above .200 since signing that extension. As a result, his playing time has decreased each of the last three seasons while not living up to his club-record contract.
Now 34 years old, Davis said it's finally time to make adjustments to his batting mechanics to try to bring value back to the last two years left of a contract worth $23 million annually. After years of not wanting to tweak his swing that produced 197 home runs over five seasons from 2012-16, the veteran first baseman could be closing his batting stance after all.
“I think all of the movement that I have pre-pitch and even pre-swing, it’s killing me, and it’s not allowing me to have success, and it’s not allowing me to have sustained success, so I think if I can just clean that up a little bit and simplify it, it’ll be hopefully a lot better than it has been,” Davis told The Baltimore Sun's Nathan Ruiz.
Davis said he was reluctant to make adjustments to his game due to his struggles over the first three and a half seasons of his major league career while with the Texas Rangers. But after a season where he got into great shape and added 25 pounds last offseason, which he admitted ultimately put too much strain on his knee and resulted in injury issues, he's ready to leave his old swing in the past.
"Plus, I’d had success with my prior mechanics, but it’s to the point now where I realize that, look, I’m not getting any younger, I’m not getting any quicker, I’m not getting any faster," said Davis.
Davis entered the peculiar 2020 season in great shape and hit well in spring training, slamming three homers and producing a 1.682 OPS. A knee injury resulted in Davis playing in just 16 games, failing to hit any home runs in 52 at-bats.
The elevation of prospect Ryan Mountcastle, who could replace Davis at first base on a more permanent base in the future, could be a big reason for Davis' sudden change of heart when altering his mechanics.
He also spoke of how happy he is for Trey Mancini to return from his absence battling colon cancer and bring quality to the lineup, telling The Sun that he wants to help the younger players reach their, and Baltimore's, full potential.