Posted June 19, 2013

Chris Davis keeps up Miguel Cabrera impersonation with monster day

Baltimore Orioles, Chris Davis
Chris Davis hit two more home runs and drove in five runs in Baltimore's rout of the Tigers. (AP)

Chris Davis hit two more home runs and drove in five runs as Baltimore crushed Detroit. (AP)

Less than two years ago, Chris Davis was a prospect who hadn’t panned out, a trade chip whom the Rangers used to acquire a reliever for their stretch run. Now he’s found a home in Baltimore, and with every passing day, he continues to cement his place among the game’s top sluggers, outhitting even 2012 Triple Crown and MVP winner Miguel Cabrera. On Wednesday, Davis clubbed his major league leading 25th and 26th homers in a 13-3 rout of the Tigers.

Davis’ first homer came at the expense of starter Rick Porcello, a two-run shot to leftfield that broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning. Baltimore broke the game open by scoring four more times in the frame, three via a Taylor Teagarden homer. After Davis added an RBI double off Evan Reed during a three-run rally in the seventh, he crushed another two run homer — his sixth in his last eight games — this time off struggling Jose Valverde amid a four-run ninth:

The 27-year-old first baseman is all over the American League leaderboard, now hitting .337/.413/.720 numbers that rank second, second and first, respectively. Additionally, he leads the league lead in OPS (1.132) and total bases (190), ranked second in RBIs (66) and doubles (23) and third in runs scored (51). He began the day leading in OPS+ (195) and third in WAR among position players (3.3), but with the WAR-calculating elves cashing in their vacation day, I don’t have an updated total for that.

Davis’ 26 homers are seven more than either Edwin Encarnacion or Cabrera, who are tied for second in the league. In fact, he stacks up pretty well against Cabrera (again, OPS+ and WAR don’t include today):

Player PA H HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS+ WAR
Davis 303 89 26 66 .337 .413 .720 195 3.3
Cabrera 325 100 19 71 .361 .452 .632 190 3.9

Davis has the better power numbers by a wide margin, but Cabrera is a hitting machine with the edge in batting average, on-base percentage and WAR. Even before accounting for Wednesday (when Cabrera collected two hits), it’s hardly a runaway lead, though it’s helped by the latter managing to hold down the fort at third; both players are six runs below average at their positions according to Defensive Runs Saved, the fielding input for Baseball-Reference.com’s version of WAR.

All in all, that’s not a bad return for a player whom the Orioles acquired — along with Tommy Hunter — for Koji Uehara on July 30, 2011. A fifth-round pick by the Rangers back in 2006, Davis had spent parts of four seasons trying to establish himself in Texas, mostly with diminishing returns, not to mention a fair amount of shifting between third base and first base. He hit .285/.331/.549 with 17 homers in 80 games as a rookie in 2008, but slumped to .238/.284/.442 the following year, striking out a whopping 150 times in 419 plate appearances, and spending a chunk of the season back in Triple-A. Continued contact problems limited him to one homer and a .192/.279/.292 line in 45 major league games in 2010, by which point he had begun to look a whole lot like a Quad-A player. While he made a slightly better showing during his brief time with the Rangers in 2011, by that point the team had Adrian Beltre locked in at third base and Mitch Moreland at first base, with Michael Young available to back up both. Davis was suddenly expendable, hence the trade.

Thanks to improved plate discipline, Davis broke out in a big way last year even while splitting time between first base, DH and the outfield corners. He hit .270/.326/.501 for the upstart O’s with 33 homers — seven in the team’s final seven games — as they made the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Now Baltimore is back in the thick of another playoff hunt; with Thursday’s win, the team is 42-31, two games behind the Red Sox in the AL East and leading the wild-card race. Though shaky in the run prevention department (4.59 per game, 12th in the league), the Orioles are third in scoring at 4.93 runs per game, and they have three players among the league’s top 10 in WAR, with Manny Machado first at 4.3 and J.J. Hardy ninth at 2.7. At this point, it’s safe to conclude that both the hitter and the team are for real.

28 comments
StevenSmith
StevenSmith

Its not even close. When Chris Davis does what he is doing now for 10 straight years then you might have a case. He isn't in the same class as Miggy its not even close. Miggy is the best hitter in baseball bar none. Your crazy if you think otherwise.

salvaje50
salvaje50

I'm not a Tigers fan and I don't care much for Miguel Cabrera.  But comparing Chris effing Davis to Cabrera is comical.

Lacrosse_James
Lacrosse_James

Oh look, all the haters and Tiger homers are out!

JohnDiaz
JohnDiaz

This is the first time in his career that he is hitting above .300 at this time of the season and you guys want to include him as one of the best hitters in baseball?  Ridiculous!  If he keeps it up for the next 5 years then we can talk.

e23plumer
e23plumer

Davis has always had power it was the strikeouts that were the problem but MLB has nobody to blame but themselves for people suspecting Chris of PED use. Wouldn't surprise me if he was on something but the power has always been there and people shouldn't automatically assume he's on something. Suspect? sure but saying he's absolutely on something is ridiculous and unfair.

MattBugaj
MattBugaj

I feel like this comments section is one great big troll. Seeing Davis' numbers from last year, I targeted him as a steal in my fantasy draft and got him around pick 140. Add that to having Cabrera as a holdover and it's been a fun year. Davis has the prospect pedigree and some high level of past performance, so it's nice to see him putting it all together. Is he better than Cabrera? No, but he's no flash in the pan, either.

RodneyOtt
RodneyOtt

Dude it's June! Can u say triple crown, the best hitter of his generation! U are dumber for having written this article

BlackSession1
BlackSession1

Yeah, but Cabrera's been doing this for a decade and Davis has done it for 2/3 of a season going back to last year. Call me when this lasts for a bit. 

Michael10
Michael10

The key word here is in the title -- impersonation. Every season there's someone who can hang with the current "top dog" (Thomas, McGwire, Bonds, Pujols and Cabrera have all held the mantle) -- for a month, a half, sometimes even a full season. But, when it's said and done -- year in, year out -- there's only one guy who's not impersonating...

O'sfaninSC
O'sfaninSC

Hey Jay - when you recapped Chris's positions last year, you left out pitcher!

patmclarke
patmclarke

Brady Anderson Part II.  Can't wait for his PED revelation in the coming years!

Michael10
Michael10

@Lacrosse_James Nope, don't even have a horse in this race -- just a longtime baseball fan who knows the difference between a Hall of Famer and the flavor of the month...

dnukem170
dnukem170

Pedigree does not matter. Stats don't lie. Chris Davis is one of the best hitters in baseball right now. Who would you put above him other than Cabrera?

ChitownTexan
ChitownTexan

@e23plumer I don't think PEDs solved Chris Davis' problems. He never had issues with hitting the ball hard. It was adjusting to MLB pitchers, plate discipline and consistency. I guess I can see how anyone who wasn't paying attention to his career before this year would think that PEDs are a possibility, but as a Rangers fan who kept hoping he'd get it together, I'm sure PED use didn't get him to the point he's at today. (Not saying he's never used them before but just that they can't account for his new-found consistency and plate discipline). I'm really glad that he's doing well though. I always liked him but the Rangers at that point didn't have time to be patient while he worked out his struggles. They could sure use him about right now though.

Matt L
Matt L

@RodneyOtt And you are dumb for not knowing the correct way to punctuate a question.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@patmclarke You one-trick PED ponies are all tied for last place for originality.   Or are you just the same guy with an untold number of user names?

Michael10
Michael10

@dnukem170 Heck, Yasiel Puig is hitting better than Davis right now. But comparing Puig to Davis would be like...hmmm...comparing Davis to Cabrera.

McGibblets
McGibblets

@ChitownTexan @e23plumer PEDs (in their various forms) could turn many routine fly-outs into doubles or home runs.

PEDs could certainly aid a hitter like Davis.  He may have always hit the ball hard, but those hard-hit balls may have landed in an outfielder's glove.  Now, they're landing in the stands.  He wasn't even a 30-home run threat in the Minors.

Freddy-Says
Freddy-Says

@JoeCabot @patmclarke Just because it's unoriginal doesn't make the question illegitimate. Or have you not been paying attention to baseball for the past couple of decades? The groundwork has been laid and we're at the point where NOBODY should be surprised if player x or player y is found to have used PEDs. 

Christopher Claxton
Christopher Claxton

@McGibblets@ChitownTexan@e23plumer 

McGibblets "He wasn't even a 30-home run threat in the Minors."

 Actually he hit 36 HRs in 2007 between A+ & AA.  And he hit 40 HRs in 2008 between AA, AAA, and MLB.

Saying, "He wasn't even a 30-home run threat in the Minors," is only correct if you meant he was actually a 40 HR threat.

Matt L
Matt L

@McGibblets @ChitownTexan @e23plumer I think you completely missed his point.  Davis is seeing the ball WAY better this season and isn't chasing at even half the rate he did last year.  Better pitch selection plus the power he has had (the man really has always been strong) equals homers.  If he is using PEDs, he has been for years now because his power most definitely has not changed.

JohnJohnson
JohnJohnson

@McGibblets @dnukem170


The original post wasn't a question. It was "Brady Anderson Part II.  Can't wait for his PED revelation in the coming years!" That sounds like an ignorant assertion to me, and if you know Chris Davis as a player you are not that surprised by this breakout. It was always known that he had this sort of power potential. So unless he fails a test or shows up on a suspicious list, who are you to pose unanswerable questions?

McGibblets
McGibblets

@dnukem170 I'm saying PEDs could turn routine fly-outs into wall-ball doubles or home runs.  That'll boost your average and jack up your numbers.

I'm not saying anything is black or white.  He may very well have improved his plate discipline, but I don't think it's illogical to pose the question of PED use (by any player).

dnukem170
dnukem170

Except that Chris Davis has been big since he was little. He is just naturally big. And piwer was never a problem, it was making contact with the ball. Are you saying PEDs are the reason he is laying off balls outside he was going after in previous years? That PEDs are why he is making contact with balls he previously missed?

McGibblets
McGibblets

@JoeCabot @Freddy-Says Not everyone wants to go around blind as sheep, believing everything that is fed to them, and celebrating the accomplishments of players who may very well be cheating.

It's alright to questions players.

Were you the type of person in the 90s, early-00s who thought McGwire and Sosa were getting that big by drinking protein shakes and working out?  Do you believe Clemens, Bonds, and Braun (to name a few) who have outright denied use of PEDs despite all the evidence against them?

Davis' season is very reminiscent of former Oriole Brady Anderson's "breakout" 50-homer season, which by the way wasn't much of a breakout since he didn't sustain it.  Anderson has been tied vicariously to PEDs.  Did Anderson cheat?  Maybe, maybe not.  But, it isn't illogical to believe he did, and it isn't wrong to pose the question.  I see no reason not to at least question Davis' accomplishments this season.  Or Cabrera's.  Or Pujols'.  Or Puig's.  The league brought this upon itself and is now trying to catch up.  

In my opinion, EVERY player should be tested every two weeks (or whatever length of time makes it impossible to mask usage).  And, every test should be revealed to the public.  Nothing to hide.  Passed the test / Failed the test.  Straight to the public.  That's the way to clean this up and bring the optimists and cynics together.

Sorry we can't all live in your dream world where everyone is honest and innocent.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@Freddy-Says Sure, PEDs are always a possibility.  So is the idea that a player is legitimately having a breakout.  It is amusing to watch you guys cut and paste the same babble every time an athlete goes through a nice stretch of play.  Life must be grand under that black cloud where you constantly dwell on the negative and are suspicious of everyone around you.