On June 26th, with the Orioles' entire slate of corner outfielders scuffling and with recent callup Chris Parmelee hitting a little bit, Buck Showalter did a funny thing -- he plugged Chris Davis into right field. It wasn't a bad idea at the time, but a strange thing happened. It stuck. Chris Davis has only had one start at first base in the month since.
Let's start with this: Chris Davis isn't a terrible right fielder. He's not a great one, either, with his range being a limiting factor, but he seems to take OK routes and have a good enough arm for the position. Defensive metrics agree, spotting him as just about neutral in a smallish sample of about 400 innings there. So it's not the end of the world to throw him out there in general. But the Orioles' core plan has always been to maximize defensive efficiency, particularly in the outfield, to support flyball pitchers like Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez.
The Orioles might accept a defensive reduction in the outfield, though, if it were the only way to put the best set of bats in the lineup. But here's the thing -- the Orioles don't have a best set of bats right now. They've continued to put Davis into right field while playing Chris Parmelee and Ryan Flaherty at first base. So, essentially, they are asserting that Parmelee/Flaherty are better enough than David Lough/Nolan Reimold on offense to offset the defensive downgrade.
The problem, even if the defense were a wash, is that the offense simply isn't there. Since June 26th, when the Chris Davis right field adventures began, Chris Parmelee and Ryan Flaherty are OPSing .480 and .487, respectively. David Lough and Nolan Reimold are in no way lighting the world on fire over the same stretch, but they're sitting at a more palatable .563 and .627.
It's not as though the Orioles have a world of great options right now. Davis has been pushed over to right field because Showalter is grasping at straws for the hot hand. Outside of Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Davis, the team doesn't have many reliable bats right now (and then there are everyday starts like J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop, for defensive reasons).
So they need to squeeze what they can out of the rest of the lineup spots with platoons, player-player matchups or simple momentum. But Davis in right field every single day isn't the way to do that. It's making room for bats that are in no way the hot hand. The Orioles should move Davis back to his natural defensive spot, and give Lough and Reimold more reps in right.