Before we drool anymore over Chris Davis’ incredible first half for the Baltimore Orioles – before we ask 20 more times, seriously, where did this come from? – let’s go back and look at the trends, and realize that this isn’t a total shock.
Sure, his numbers through 75 games are eye-popping: .336 average, league-leading 27 home runs, 70 RBI, league-leading .719 slugging percentage, 1.132 OPS and 197 total bases. He is an early favorite for American League MVP, although Miguel Cabrera will have something to say about that at year’s end.
But Davis’ production should not come as a total shock. He was a highly-touted prospect in the Texas Rangers’ organization, having been drafted in the fifth round in 2006. With Texas, he put up decent numbers, but never found consistency. In four seasons, he hit just .248 with 42 home runs and 124 RBI in 266 games, an average of just 67 per season.
It wasn’t until he arrived in Baltimore that he found his groove. Acquired in a 2011 deadline trade with Tommy Hunter for Koji Uehara, Davis initially left fans wondering if he was the permanent fix at first base, hitting .276 with two home runs in the season’s final 31 games.
But then came 2012, which has been quite the precursor to his monster start to 2013.
Davis was a major part of the Orioles’ breakout campaign last year, and no one seemed to take notice, because his numbers were good, but not close to historic or even league-leading. He played in 139 games, hitting .270 while mashing 33 home runs and driving in 85 runs. He struck out an alarming 169 times in 562 at-bats, but for a team long in search of power at the position, there was little concern.
While Davis’ K numbers are approaching another soaring number (he has fanned 81 times in 75 games), he has been ridiculously clutch, hitting .411 with runners in scoring position and .382 with RISP and two outs. And he has hit lefties well, batting at a .287 clip with six home runs. So his whiff rate is forgivable.
Whether this remarkable season continues remains to be seen, but we know Davis is not a one-hit wonder. He had an outstanding season in 2012, and 17- and 21-homer seasons with Texas in ’08 and ’09, respectively. His defense is also an underrated part of his game, as he has committed just two errors in 669 chances this season for a .997 fielding percentage.