Chris Davis’ descent as one of the biggest falls from grace is well documented. He’s batting .150/.227/.227 with just four home runs, the last one now over a month ago. He is dead last among all qualifying major-league players in several offensive categories including batting average, strikeout percentage, slugging percentage and WAR.
So, what’s next for the player formerly known as Crush?
Speaking on his offensive struggles, Davis was recently quoted saying,
“I feel like I’ve pretty much wiped the slate clean on a daily basis and said, what do we need to do? Is there something else that we can try? Obviously, the results aren’t there. I think it’s foolish for me to continue to go out here and do the same thing over and over.”
The Orioles’ latest attempt to get Davis on track has been to sit him for at least a week in favor of other players, including freshly called up Corban Joseph, a 29-year-old journeyman, who had previously played in just two major league games five years ago.
It’s almost enough to wonder if the Orioles, having apparently failed with several more obvious solutions to try to solve Davis’s problems, are trying to use shame as a motivator.
In the end, Davis himself is responsible for the result of that continual failure. The well-publicized comments during a MASN broadcast about the effectiveness of how Davis applied his work ethic - or whether that work ethic is as strong as it used to be - seemed to strike a nerve that no number of flailing strikeouts touched before.
“He needs to make adjustments, and I’ll tell you what – Scott Coolbaugh, he had him in the minor leagues and said he was the last guy to leave the ballpark at night. I think he has to get back.”
Though the Orioles let Davis continue to stumble for a little while after that, they have since resorted to more drastic measures like not having Davis play since June 11. A player making $23 million a year being a healthy scratch for more than a week might well have been unheard of before now.
In addition to benching him for at least a week, the Orioles have Davis doing on-field work with Brady Anderson, the owner-anointed baseball guru. Anderson, the team’s vice president of baseball operations, seems to relish such assignments, to the apparent occasional chagrin of former coaches like Dave Wallace.
Who knows? Maybe Brady’s sage advice will help and we’ll see a new Chris Davis, more like the old one, the next time he steps to the plate. Maybe he’ll make even make a slight change in his batting stance that has resulted in striking out in nearly 38 percent of his plate appearances, worse than he had even done last season in what we optimistically believed to be the floor for his performance.
Maybe Davis will even lay down a bunt against the shift, which teams continue to put on against him no matter how lifeless he looks at the plate.
The longer Davis’ failures continue, the harder it is to remember that he had a .923 OPS while hitting 47 home runs in 2015. His 2018 numbers are a .454 and -2.0 fWAR. Our collective patience is wearing thin and it’s becoming clear that this is not a temporary funk.
We’ll find out if we see any signs of an improved Davis, possibly some time over the next few days the Orioles take on the Nationals in D.C. If Davis continues to look like the same unfocused player making poor contact and taking third strikes down the middle of the plate, the list of possible solutions for the Orioles will have grown even thinner.
Some fans are left hoping for the Hail Mary solution of a minor league assignment that Davis has the right to refuse and thus is unlikely to ever happen. Unless the Orioles take the un-Oriole-like step of admitting they made a huge mistake, waving good-bye to the almost $100 million still owed to Davis, and giving up on one of “their guys” in the process, there is not much else they can do except hope that something magically clicks.