Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is having an historically bad year.
In a time when hyperbole is everywhere, this unfortunately is not.
Davis is literally on pace to have the worst season by any player ever.
For those of you who hate, or don’t know about advanced metrics, fWAR (Wins Above Replacement) is a measurement used by FanGraphs to approximately how many wins a player is worth — seeing if team more or less likely to win with or without a specific player in a game.
Davis’s fWAR is currently -1.8. The next worst is -1.2, held by Cleveland Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin. Ian Desmond is the second-worst first baseman with an fWAR -0.9.
Davis is currently slashing .153/.232/.233. We’re used to seeing a low average and a lot of strikeouts by Davis, but his home run and RBI totals made up for that.
So far in 2018, the two-time former league leader has four homers. That puts him on pace for around 15 this season. The 30 combined homers he’s hit since the start of the 2017 season hasn’t yet matched his 2016 total of 38.
There was hope for Davis entering this season. He said he’d been working extra hard to reduce strikeouts and increase contact in the offseason. Apparently, that extra work didn’t happen, according to Hall of Fame pitcher and MASN analyst Jim Palmer, who laid into Davis last month.
If the Orioles’ hitting coach says it didn’t happen, it probably didn’t.
If Davis did try to adjust after Palmer’s comments, it hasn’t created results.
Perhaps the worst part of this situation, is the the Orioles are paying Davis $23M per year through 2022 to drastically underperform. On top of that — he’s still regularly in the lineup, playing in 56 of Baltimore’s 64 games so far.
The contract makes him un-tradable, but it’s not like any team wants him at this point.
It has to be tough on a front office to bench or demote a guy being paid that much. It’s probably even tougher to bench a guy who propelled your offense for four years.
But the Red Sox were in a similar situation with Pablo Sandoval a few years back. They sucked it up and designated him for assignment. It was the right thing to do.
Some time in AAA might not hurt either.
Baltimore’s front office is just as flawed as Davis, though. It’s afraid to commit to a rebuild, or even give younger guys some time in the big leagues.
Personally, I feel bad for Davis. It seems like his struggles started by no fault of his own, but then he did nothing to fix anything, so I don’t feel too bad. It would be great if he turns things around.
Of course, my opinion means nothing, so it looks like the Orioles are just gonna keep losing with no plan on how to win. Love it.