Should The Orioles Look At Brandon Allen?

The Orioles are not expected to get much production from first-base this year (again).

Totally unrelated news… 26 year-old first-baseman Brandon Allen was just put on waivers by the Oakland A’s. Allen, a big left-handed swinger, doesn’t have a great deal of major league playing time; in 374 career plate appearances he’s hit just .205/.291/.375 and struck out almost 36% of the time. He does have 11 home runs and a solid 11% walk rate though, and his career line at Triple-A is .286/.401/.555.

Compare this to Chris Davis with his .252/.301/.447 major league line and .337/.397/.609 numbers at Triple-A. In the highest minor league level, Davis has a small edge in home runs (33 per 600 PA to 32 per 600 PA) and a large edge in BABIP (around 85 points), but worse plate discipline (a 24% strike-out rate versus 21% is close, but a 9% walk rate versus 15% is not). Additionally, just to note it; Allen has hit about as well against righties in the majors as Davis has (93 wRC+ to 95 wRC+), but much worse against lefties (18 wRC+ to 75 wRC+) due largely to a .213 BABIP against them (while Davis’ BABIP is only 14 points lower than against righties, at .325).

Depending on how much of the BABIP difference is “real” – I’d guess a fair bit of it, but not the whole thing – one could argue either way about who has had the better numbers. Davis has struck out less in the majors, but I’m not sure that would continue given their minor league numbers, Allen’s better plate discipline, and Allen’s better major league contact rate (70% to 67%). 

I’m not saying the Orioles should definitely pick Allen up, but I’d have more faith in him turning into a decent major leaguer than Davis. Also, can’t go back in time but, claiming Allen for free > trading for Davis.