2011 Orioles Retrospective: Chris Davis

While Tommy Hunter was probably the main piece coming to Baltimore in the Koji Uehara trade, the O’s also picked up corner infielder Chris Davis in the deal. While taking a flier on a guy with some potential who’s blocked on his current club is exactly what a team in the Orioles’ position should be doing, acquiring them via minor league deals or in trades for mediocre relievers (as opposed to very good ones who could have brought back actual prospects instead – yes, I’m still a little bitter about the deal) would be the way to go.

Davis hit .250/.296/.408 for Texas in 81 PA before being traded, and though his numbers were better for the O’s (.276/.310/.398 in 129 PA), that isn’t saying much. An overall line of .266/.305/.402 isn’t good in general, bad for a first-baseman, terrible for a poor defensive first-baseman (-3 runs, along with another -3 at third), and embarrassing for a poor defensive first-baseman who also has a .366 BABIP to help him out.

Not that any of that is really new; Davis has a bad approach at the plate (unlike Mark Reynolds, who also has awful contact skills (even worse than Davis’), he is prone to expanding the strike-zone), and won’t do nearly enough damage even when he puts the bat on the ball to make up for it (his career rate of homers per 600 PA is about 24, which is solid – unless you bring literally nothing else to the table).

It sounds like Davis will be competing for a corner infield spot in 2012, and that the team would prefer to play him at third to get Reynolds over to first. I’m not sure how much sense that makes, since even though Reynolds is awful at third (around -11 runs career per season according to the various defensive metrics) he also appears to be awful at first (much smaller sample size, but around -22 runs per season); having no range turns out to be an issue at multiple positions. Davis, on the other hand, has much better numbers at first (-5 runs per season, versus -30 runs per season at third – in many fewer games). Given that, it would seem that the least bad (though still very bad) alignment would have Davis at first and Reynolds at third. Or, really, Reynolds at DH, Davis at first, and Matt Antonelli at third.