The 2014 season has been one of disappointment for the Orioles first baseman. He has struggled with inconsistency and injury. His average has dipped below .200 several times this season and fans have called for him to be moved even farther down the order. Through all of this, he is still one of the great power threats in all of baseball and not someone easy to bet against improving in the second half.
Name: Christopher Lyn Davis Number: 19
Born: March 17, 1986 (28 years old) in Longview, TX
Height: 6'3" Weight: 230 lbs
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Drafted: In the 5th round of the 2006 amateur draft by the Texas Rangers
School: Longview High School (Longview, TX)
Navarro College (Corsicana, TX)
Contract: $10,350,000 in 2014 (Arbitration eligible in 2015, Free Agent: 2016)
Became an Oriole: Traded with pitcher Tommy Hunter from the Rangers in exchange for pitcher Koji Uehara
Something that has endeared Chris Davis to the fans of Baltimore is not the mammoth home runs, timely RBI, or the slick work with the glove at first base. It is his humor. Whether it is goofing around during a preseason photo shoot, or high-fiving teammates that aren't there or his affinity for the man hug; like this and this. It is something that, his mother says, he has been doing his entire life.
Chris is the son of Lyn and Karen and the little brother of Jennifer. When he was young, Chris would perform Will Ferrell skits from Saturday Night Live for his family. In high school he would regularly wear fuzzy, pink slippers to school, just because.
Davis comes from humble enough beginnings. His father works at a furniture store and his mother is an adjuster for Farmer's Insurance. The couple divorced when Chris was in high school.
It is also of note that the man they call "Crush" today was always destined to become the behemoth he is. He weighed in at 9 lbs as a newborn. And in middle school he would squeeze tennis balls to build his forearms.
A funny story that his mother shared with ESPN last year was that when Chris was 11 years old he broke his ankle rollerblading. He had recovered just in time for Little League season. In the first game, without weeks to prepare like the other kids, he smacked a game-winning home run.
At Longview High School in Texas, Chris was both the starting shortstop and the ace of the Lobo's staff. He was bringing 94 mph cheddar on the mound and was maybe only a few pounds lighter then as he is now. He earned the nickname "Biscuit" from his varsity coach because he had told Davis that he was "one biscuit away from outgrowing shortstop." It wouldn't be his frame but his arm that actually moved him from the position as he suffered an injury his senior year.
Despite the arm injury he still put up massive numbers, breaking Longview's school record by hitting 13 home runs in 30 games. It was enough for big league scouts to take notice. The New York Yankees selected him with the third to last selection of the 2004 draft. He would decline and attend the University of Texas on a baseball scholarship.
However, things didn't go well at Texas. He was there during the fall of 2004. He worked out and practiced with the Longhorns, but he didn't see himself getting any playing time. Then, the decision was made to transfer to Navarro College, a community college two hours away from his high school.
At Navarro his reputation grew; the Angels selected him in the 35th round of the 2005 draft. He spurned the pros again in favor of his final year in junior college. Then, in 2006 he was named a pre-season JUCO All-American by Baseball America, hit 18 home runs for the Bulldogs and was chosen by his hometown Texas Rangers in the 5th round.
After this, he tore through the minors in two seasons and made his debut at the age of 22. He played well, hitting .285 in 80 games and looked every bit like the next big thing in Texas. They like big things down there.
But things were not meant to be. He struggled to keep his spot on the Rangers club. He would be shuttled between Texas and Triple-A for each of the next three seasons. His average in a major league uniform had taken a dip, his home runs were non-existent, and his strikeouts were astronomical. In 2010, Davis hit .192 in 45 games for Texas with one home run, 15 walks and 40 strikeouts. The Rangers were losing patience.
It was at this time that Davis decided to take a look at his life. He was struggling professionally, but he believed that it had to do with things off the field. He didn't consider himself an alcoholic but he would drink, a lot.
He recently told Baltimore Magazine that he had gotten into the routine of heading to the ballpark, playing the game, going straight to the bar afterwards and going to bed. It was the same thing every single day and he attacked it in the same manner he does many things in his life; full bore. He drank and drank hard.
Davis seeked the guidance of a well documented recovering addict and teammate, Josh Hamilton. The two are each very religious and would have long discussions on their lives. Hamilton helped the first baseman realize that baseball is not a guarantee, He needed to have his mind right if he were to reach his ultimate potential.
As a result, Davis got out of the bar and stayed in the gym. He was also lucky enough to meet his future wife, Jill Meyer, at this time. They first met one another at a Tex-Mex restaurant in 2010. They began dating, and when Davis was assigned to the Domincan Republic for off-season training Jill came with him and stayed for an entire month.
After a year of wooing, Davis proposed to Jill on the beach in Maui while the two enjoyed a candlelit dinner together. They were married in 2012 and just had their first child, Ella, in May.
Jill was a support system for Chris is that final year in Texas. He had grown worried about his future in baseball. His struggles to stay in the majors were well known; fodder for radio shows in the area. He thought about going back to school to become a minister or youth pastor. She explained that it was his decision and she would support it no matter what. The next day, he hit three home runs for Triple-A Round Rock. Baseball it was.
In 2011, Oriole fans are very familiar with a trade that helped shape the magical season of 2012. On July 30, Davis, along with Tommy Hunter, was sent to Baltimore in exchange for middle relief pitcher Koji Uehara. It was one of the final moves by Andy MacPhail that set the Orioles up for success.
You know the rest of this story.
Since then, Davis has set the Orioles franchise record for home runs in a season, become a clubhouse morale booster and the object of affection for male and female fans alike. Not bad for such a goofball.