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Entries in Chris Davis (13)

Tuesday
Jul022013

Nine to Know: June Hitting Edition

1. The Angels had 42 bases loaded plate appearances in June, the most in baseball. They hit .294 with no grand slams.

2. The Cardinals hit .314 with runners on base in June, the best in baseball. Their .339 w/RISP was also the best in baseball.

3. The Brewers hit .113 with runners in scoring position and two outs in June, the worst in baseball.

4. While Chris Davis hit the most homers in June with 12, he also swung and missed more than any other batter (90). 

5. Yasiel Puig hit .476 at Dodger Stadium and Buster Posey hit .449 on the road in June, the best numbers in baseball.

6. From the 7th inning on, the Angels hit .286 the highest number in baseball and exactly 100 points better than the Yankees.

7. Yasiel Puig and Jason Kipnis each hit .500 against fastballs in June.

8. Freddie Freeman swung at 247 pitches, the most of any batter in June.

9. Carlos Gonzalez had the most extra base hits in June with 20, including seven doubles, four triples, and nine triples.

Friday
Jun072013

Hello, Chris Davis

There's this guy, in Baltimore, named Chris Davis. Maybe you have heard of him. If you haven't, let me be the first to welcome you out from under your rock.

Chris Davis has always shown potential to be a prodigious power hitter in the middle of a major league lineup, thanks in part to his career minor league SLG% of .597. But after busting onto the scene in 2008 with a triple slash line of .285/.331/.549, Davis (and the Rangers) watched the young man from Longview, TX quickly become lost at the plate. 

A Brandon Wood-esque slow start in 2010, led to Davis being sent down to AAA. Ditto in 2011.

So what does a team do with a player that has huge power upside, but has a K% regularly near 30%?

Why, you trade him, of course.

For bullpen depth (Koji Uehara), because that makes sense, and because, why not entrust a position to Mitch Moreland?

At this point, it is safe to assume that Chris Davis was broken. His free-swinging ways were simply too much to overcome, and now his limitless power potential would be relegated to minor league folklore. Another story about a failed prospect, blah blah blah. Or is it?

The "Broken Prospect Fixer Upper" machine

After Davis was traded to Baltimore, something happened (my friend thinks that the Orioles have some kind of "Broken Prospect Fixer Upper" machine. I am inclined to agree with him).

He started hitting again, and with power...again.

He still struck out too damn much, but a triple slash line of .270/.326/.501?

Yes, please.

Chris Davis was fixed. He wasn't hitting at a superstar level, but he did hit at an above average clip. Plenty good enough to be a consistent producer in the five-hole for the Orioles.

But then Baltimore added some magic to their Fixer Upper machine and not only did Davis improve his contact rates, thus lowering his K%, but it also allowed him to hit for even more power than everyone already knew he was capable of.

Cue the colorful charts...

So pretty, right?

A spackle of blue here and there on the heat map with a ridiculous amount of red on anything that is middle-in. And his contact rates show, well, exactly what you would expect from a power hitter that is doing exactly what he should be expected to do. When a pitch is in his zone, he is making contact, and he's doing a good job of not missing pitches that are thrown over the plate in general.

He still misses a lot on pitches low and out of the strike zone, but, give him a break. The man is 6'3", and has a career K% north of 30%. The fact that he has that number down to 23.8% so far in 2013, is a victory all on it's own.

What does this mean for pitchers?

It means death for pitchers facing Davis, that's what it means. For someone with "easy power" like Chris Davis (Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs pointed out just how easy, here), the scales were at least balanced by his propensity to strikeout. But since he has been cutting down on those, well...

Back to the charts...

Oh, my.

Davis has a .700 SLG% on pitches that are off of the plate and away. He has a 1.524 SLG% on pitches on the outside corner.

This is ridiculous. This is preposterous. This is fantastic.

Since the "Steroid Era" "ended," baseball has had it's share of power hitters with slugging percentages above the .600 mark, there are pages of players who have slugged that high in a season on Baseball-Reference. Chris Davis' current slash line is .350/.429/.719. .719!!! 

Do you know how many times, since 1901 a player has slugged over .700 for a season?

36.

Nine of those seasons belong to Babe Ruth, four of those seasons belong to Barry Bonds.

From 1958 through 1993, nobody (who qualified for a batting title) had a slugging percentage that high. And, speaking of Bonds, he was the last hitter to have slugging percentage over .700. And that was in 2004.

What does this mean?

It means that Chris Davis doesn't just have "crazy power." It means that Chris Davis has "special power," or, dare I say, "generational power."

Or, Chris Davis is just having a career year. But that's no fun.

With how easy it is for Davis to hit the ball very hard, and very far, it's not too much of a stretch to think that he could join both Bonds and Ruth as the only players to slug over .800 for a season. And, if you want to get technical, he could be the only player since Ruth to do it without "help."

Could you imagine if he had figured it out while still with Texas? In that bandbox? With that jet stream to right-center field?!?

Most writers are zeroing in on the Miguel Cabrera, or Mike Trout, or Bryce Harper. All of who are fantastic players who are a part of the bridge of "generational" players that connect one era to another.

Chris Davis doesn't have five tools like Trout and Harper, and he doesn't yet have the track record of Cabrera. But, if Chris Davis continues to smash baseballs, an argument could be made that he should be included in the conversation with those aforementioned players, unless his power goes the way of Al Simmons. In that case, forget I said anything. 

Monday
May132013

AL Homer & Strikeout Percentage Leaders

I wanted to spend a few moments looking at ultimate results, all or nothing, homers vs. strikeouts.

There are 20 players in AL with at least seven homers this season led by Chris Davis, Mark Davis, and Edwin Encarnacion with 11 each.

There are 17 players with at least 36 whiffs led by Colby Rasmus and Chris Carter with 54 each

But who are the batters with a good home run percentage and a decent strikeout percentage?

 

On this chart you want to be in the lower right corner where you see the effectiveness of Edwin Encarnacion, Robinson Cano, Alex Rios, Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, J.J. Hardy, and just out of the zone, Jose Bautista.

The lower left corner represents the batters who are lower in terms of strikeouts and lower in terms of homers. This group includes Elvis Andrus, Nick Markakis, Jeff Keppinger, Melky Cabrera, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez and others.

The upper right corner is comprised of guys who are hitting some homers, but striking out too much: Colby Rasmus, Chris Carter, Adam Dunn, and Nelson Cruz are some of the folks here.

The upper left corner are guys who are whiffing without showing power. This unenviable group includes Drew Stubbs, Carlos Pena, Jason Castro, Justin Smoak, Josh Hamilton, and assortment of other players you are already not happy with.