clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Chris Davis, the high priced sleeper?

New, 5 comments

How will an all or nothing slugger be ranked going into 2015?

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

After a 53 Homer 2013, Chris Davis was a first rounder in many leagues this season, and if you were one of those owners, he sabotaged you.  Next season, will he be sabotaging his owners, or his doubters?

While batting average is generally ignored by statisticians and discredited as unpredictable, .196 encapsulates Chris Davis' body of work pretty well.  His batted ball profile was actually excellent; high line drive rates, over 20% HR/FB, very low infield fly ball rates, and he averaged 298ft per homerun and fly ball, good for 21st in all of baseball.  His strikeout rate was a career worst, but he wasn't far from what he had done in previous seasons.

So the reason this season turned into a flaming train wreck, is that teams know where to play Chris Davis.

Courtesy of Fangraphs

So as with most hitters, more fly balls to the opposite field, more grounders to the pull side.  Davis still has power to all fields, but he's clearly constantly grounding out into the shift.  Here is Jeff Zimmerman's data on shifts.

Season

At-Bats

Balls in Play

Shift Count

% Shifted

Shift BABIP

No Shift BABIP

2012

515

346

110

31.80%

0.364

0.323

2013

584

385

199

51.70%

0.302

0.431

2014

450

277

230

83.00%

0.230

0.353

So Davis seems to be incapable of avoiding groundballs, so what can he do about this issue?  Despite Davis being a bomber last season, he actually lost almost 10 ft of distance on his homers and fly balls from 2013 to 2014.  He also was suspended this year because he took Adderall, something he was allowed to take in 2013, and then not allowed to take last season.  This season he's back on Adderall, that additional focus he seems to gain on the drug I believe will be very beneficial, and with a player like Davis, his value is totally based on home run production, and a few extra homers will push his value up a ton.

More focus may also help him make more contact and lay off a few more balls out of the zone.  Last season he saw his contact rates in and out of the zone drop below his career rates.  Davis has always had strike out issues, but striking out of because of chased balls will ruin a selective hitter like Davis.  Simply put, he needs to be swinging at strikes because he isn't that good at making contact, even though his contact is excellent.

Courtest of SB Nation

So next season what can we projected for Davis?  He's losing a 40 homerun hitter infront of him, and he'll likely be the cleanup hitter with Manny Machado and Adam Jones in front of him.  This means a lot more at bats with men on for him next season, and while he'll continue to hit right into the shift, I honestly believe that more balls over the wall will come back, and probably a little more luck on the BABIP frontier next season should put him back into the 240 avg, 30+ HR group, think about what Mark Teixeira used to be like when he was good, and that's how I view Davis next season.  So while I can't project him to be worth of a top 6 pick again, I do think he'll be worthy of top 60 next season. Davis won't be your top pick, but I can see him as a cornerstone of a winning team next season, as long as you are prepared to have other hitters who can pickup his average.