What Chris Davis will 2017 bring? Well, there will no doubt be power. He has that in spades, hitting the third-most dingers over the last three years (and is one of only three active players to go over 110 in that span). The issue with Davis is his wildly fluctuating batting BABIP. Since joining the Orioles, Davis has been one of the most enigmatic fantasy baseball commodities, and it is all tied to his BABIP that has had zero consistency over his tenure in Baltimore.
While Davis’ first two years are relatively steady, 2013 is when the rollercoaster starts, as his BABIP over the next four seasons fluctuates in a completely indiscernible manner. There’s zero predictability in Chris Davis year over year, and as such, he becomes a breakout, and then a bust, and the cycle begins anew.
With Davis, however, his BABIP does not just cause issues with his batting average. If you look at Davis’ year-over-year statistics on a per-game basis, a pattern emerges wherein all of Davis’ fantasy baseball 5×5 statistics fluctuate alongside his BABIP (except his anemic SB, which I left off to prevent sadness):
Of note with these fluctuations are that Davis never really performed poorly since joining the Orioles. While his per-game statistics have fluctuated wildly, pro-rating them out to a full season still gives you great numbers. When a down season for him over 162 games is 33 home runs, 83 runs and 92 RBI, he’s definitely a player you will take a risk on, despite his fluctuations.[Kenny2]
With the strong Orioles lineup, he should go for 100/100/40, but his wildly fluctuating average and lack of stolen bases make him difficult to trust as a front-end option, especially with power going up everywhere around baseball. Still, the ability to lead the league in home runs can’t be ignored. Luckily, his FantasyPros average draft position is as the fifteenth fantasy baseball first baseman off the board, which means that even if he has another down year, he is going to be an absolute steal. There’s no way he isn’t in the top 12 first basemen, even if he repeats his anemic average from last year. As we’ve learned today, that is no guarantee, and is mostly BABIP-driven. He’s well worth a draft pick in rounds six through nine (depending on league depth) to fill your 1B slot.