Chris Davis

From BR Bullpen


Christopher Lyn Davis
(Chip, Crush)

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Chris Davis was signed by the Texas Rangers and scout Randy Taylor as the 5th round pick in the 2006 amateur draft.

Davis hit a single as a pinch hitter in his major league debut for the Texas Rangers against the Houston Astros on June 26, 2008. He had been called up earlier in the day when Chris Shelton was designated for assignment. A fifth round choice in the 2006 amateur draft, Davis was tied for 4th in all of minor league baseball with 23 home runs at the time of his call-up; he trailed Dallas McPherson, Brad Eldred and Mike Hessman. He was hitting .333 with 77 RBI between the AA Frisco Rough Riders and AAA Oklahoma RedHawks and was expected to become the Rangers' regular first baseman against right-handed pitchers. In his first season, he played 80 games, hitting .285 with 23 doubles and 17n homers while splitting his time between first and third base. However, he had trouble controling the strike zone, striking out 88 times while walking only 20.

His trouble with plate discipline continued the next year, as he struck out in 100 of his first 219 AB in 2009, the fastest player in MLB history to that point to 100 strikeouts; he was sent down on July 5th, keeping him from setting a strikeout record. He did manage to top 20 homers that season, however, ending up with 150 strikeouts and a .238 batting average in 113 games. He went into a power slump in 2010 however, and only played 45 games for the Rangers, hitting .192 with a single homer. He lost his job as a part-time starter at first to rookie Mitch Moreland and was left off the Rangers' postseason roster. In 2011, he got into 28 games for Texas before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles on July 30th along with Tommy Hunter in return for reliever Koji Uehara. He got more playing time with the O's, ending the year with a .266 batting average, 12 doubles and 5 homers in 59 games.

In 2012, Davis was playing regularly and hitting well at the start of the season, when he was called in to pitch in an emergency situation on May 6th. The O's had run out of pitchers in a game against the Boston Red Sox, and manager Buck Showalter asked Davis, who was the DH, to take the mound in the bottom of the 16th with the score tied, 6-6. He escaped without giving up a run when Marlon Byrd was thrown out at home, throwing a few pitches over 90 mph. In the top of the 17th, it was the Red Sox's turn to be out of pitchers, and manager Bobby Valentine asked OF Darnell McDonald to pitch. He gave up a three-run homer to Adam Jones, then Davis came back to pitch the bottom of the 17th, and managed to keep a clean sheet again, striking out Adrian Gonzalez and forcing McDonald to hit into a game-ending double play. Thus, Davis was credited with the win and McDonald with the loss; it was the first time that both teams had used positon players on the mound in a game since October 4, 1925, when future Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and George Sisler had both pitched in the last game of the season. It was a good thing that Davis's work as a pitcher was successful that day, because with the bat, he went 0 for 8 with 5 strikeouts. In a display of his exceptional power, Davis hit a home run in spite of shattering his bat on June 13th against the Pittsburgh Pirates; the ball cleared the fence at Camden Yards while his teammates were scurrying to get out of the way of the bat's end, which ended up in the Orioles' dugout. On August 24th, he had the first three-homer game of his career - and the first by an Orioles player since Nick Markakis in 2006 - in a 6 - 4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. He drove in four runs, and thus passed his career highs for both homers and RBI with over a month left in the season. He continued his hot hitting into the final stretch, with the Orioles in close pursuit of the New York Yankees for a division title. On the season's penultimate day on October 2nd, he homered off the Tampa Bay Rays' James Shields for the Orioles' only run in a 1-0 win, keeping the Orioles within one game of the Yanks with one game left to play. It marked the sixth straight game in which he had homered, tying a club record. He ended the season at .270/.326/.501, with 33 homers and 85 RBI in addition to 75 runs scored and 20 doubles; his 169 strikeouts were 4th in the AL. He did not show any extra-base power in the postseason, however, going 1 for 4 in the Wild Card Game win over his former team, the Rangers, and 4 for 20 in the Birds' ALDS loss to the Yankees.

Davis started the 2013 season red hot, homering in each of the Orioles' first four games, including a grand slam in the fourth, while driving in 16 runs as his team won 2 of the 3 games against the Tampa Bay Rays and their home opener against the Minnesota Twins. He was only the fourth player to homer in his team's first four games, following Willie Mays (1971), Mark McGwire (1998) and Nelson Cruz (2011). His 16 RBIs during that span obliterated the record of 12, held by three different players. He ended up winning American League Player of the Month honors for April, finish the month with a .348 average, 8 doubles, 9 home runs, 28 RBI and 19 runs scored; he also had a .798 slugging percentage and a .442 on-base percentage, thanks to 16 walks, belying his reputation as a one-dimensional player whose only talent was for hitting home runs. He cooled down a bit in May, but when he hit his 16th homer in a 10-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on May 24th, he was still leading the major leagues, two ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Justin Upton. On May 29th, Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals grabbed the headlines by hitting three homers, but Chris went 4 for 4 with a pair of homers, 3 runs and 3 RBI to lead the Orioles to a 9-6 win over the Nats. He hit his 20th homer on June 2nd in a 4-2 win over the Detroit Tigers, becoming the first major leaguer to reach that number in 2013. It took him less than another month to make it to 30 homers, reaching the mark on June 29th with a great game against the Yankees in which he homered twice and drove in five runs in an 11-3 win. Not only was he named to the All-Star team fro the first time, but he was the leading vote-getter among all major league players. He ended the first half the way he had begun it, with a home run in his last four contests to bring his total to 37, also gathering 4 RBIs in the July 14th win over the Blue Jays to give him 93, on top of a .315 batting average. The 37 homers tied Reggie Jackson's AL record for most home runs before the All-Star Game, set in 1969, and were only two shy of Barry Bonds's major league record of 39. He reached the 100-RBI mark on August 1st when he hit his 39th homer off Travis Blackley of the Houston Astros in a 6-3 win. He reached the 40-homer plateau the next day, connecting off Aaron Harang of the Seattle Mariners in an 11-8 win. On September 13th, he hit his 50th homer off Steve Delabar of the Blue Jays in a 5-3 win, making him only the third player in history to collect 50 homers and 40 doubles in one season, after Babe Ruth and Albert Belle. On September 17th, he set the Orioles' all-time record by belting his 51st homer, beating the mark set by Brady Anderson in 1996. He finished the season with 53, a total that led the AL, as did his 138 RBI and 370 total bases. He finished third in the AL MVP vote and was received a Silver Slugger Award as the league's top hitting first baseman.

Davis was slowed by an injury to his left oblique muscle early in 2014 and had to go on the disabled list on April 26th, missing two weeks of action. He had only 3 homers and 15 RBI when he had the second three-homer game of his career on May 20th against the Pittsburgh Pirates, also collecting 5 RBIs in a 9-2 win. While he did maintain good, but not outstanding power numbers, his production was overall in a major regression compared to the previous year, with a batting average under .200 for most of the year, an OBP falling around the .300 mark, and strikeouts on the rise (although nowhere near as numerous as in 2009). Yet, in spite of those struggles, the Orioles were winning consistently and had built a comfortable lead atop the AL East standings by the beginning of September. All that left the Orioles scratching their heads about what his true level of production was, and whether the systematic use of defensive shifts against the slugger was the cause of a lot of his problems. On September 12th, shocking news came down as he was suspended for 25 games for testing positive for amphetamines, ending his season. Davis had long been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and was taking the amphetamine adderall to treat it, but had failed to request the appropriate therapeutic exemption. That the failure resulted in a suspension meant that he it was not his first failed test either. His final numbers were a .196 average, 26 homers and 72 RBI, and an OPS+ of 97. Perhaps seeking redemption for his trespass, Davis proved to be a real-life hero on September 13th when he helped unpin a trapped motorist from an overturned tuck on a Maryland highway; he had been the first one on the accident scene, and a few other passers-by had lent him a hand. Following the season, he did seek and was granted a therapeutic exemption for adderall for 2015, ensuring that there would be no repeat of the previous year's fiasco.

Davis missed the first game of the 2015 season as he completed his suspension but was back in the starting line-up the next day, April 7th, as the team's designated hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays. He got off to a good start, hitting 5 homers and driving in 16 runs in 19 April games, and kept repeating similar numbers month after month, although his batting average fluctuated. In August, however, he got really hot, as a two-homer game on August 15th gave him 6 homers in 6 games; his 88 RBIs were the most in the major leagues and with 34 homers was one behind leader Nelson Cruz. The second of the two homers that day came with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning off switch-pitcher Pat Venditte to give the Orioles a 4-3 win against the Oakland A's. Thanks to a late surge, he passed former teammate Nelson Cruz to lead the AL in homers for the second time with 47. He was also second in the league in RBIs with 117.

Davis became a free agent after the 2015 season, and while it was clear that the Orioles wanted to re-sign him, it took more time than expected to reach a deal. Finally, on January 16, 2016, the two sides came to an agreement on a seven-year deal worth $161 million, the biggest contract in team history. Chris had another productive season, playing 157 games and even though he hit only .221 and led the AL with 219 strikeouts, he blasted 38 homers, drew 89 walks, scored 99 runs and drove in 84. His OPS+ was 110 in spite of the low batting average and he and Mark Trumbo formed a deadly duo in the middle of the Birds' line-up. In the Wild Card Game however, he went 0 for 3 with a walk as the O's were eliminated by the Toronto Blue Jays. On May 16, 2017, he added his name to the short list of players who have homered twice in extra innings when he went deep in both the 12th and 13th innings in a 13-11 Orioles win over the Detroit Tigers. His two-run shot off Francisco Rodriguez in the 13th proved to be the margin of victory in the slugfest. On July 18th, he homered twice and drove in 6 runs shortly after returning from the disabled list in a 12-1 rout of the Rangers. For all of his home runs until then, he had never driven in more than 5 runs in a game before that night. He finished the year at .215 with 26 homers and 61 RBIs.

In 2018, the Orioles had a historically bad year - and so did Davis. He hit a meager .168 in 128 games and 470 at-bats with only 16 homers and 49 at-bats. He also struck out 192 times. The Orioles tried to limit his playing time, but had few alternatives. He finished the season in a deep slump, with his last hit coming on September 14th and finishing the year with just that hit in his final 37 at-bats! If he hoped that 2019 would usher better times, he was wrong, as he started the year 0 for 23 with 13 strikeouts in his first 8 games, giving him a hitless streak of 44 at-bats dating back to the previous season. He was now 2 at-bats shy of the futility record for a position player set by Eugenio Velez in 2011. Given the huge amount still owed him on his contract, the Orioles were reluctant to just let him go however. On April 8th, he went 0 for 5 in a game against the Oakland Athletics to set a new record at 49 at-bats. Ironically, the O's won that game handily, 12-4. He finally got a hit on April 13th, in a 9-5 win over the Boston Red Sox with a 1st-inning single that drove in a pair of runs. The streak had reached 54 at-bats by then, but once the gorilla was off his back, he added a pair of doubles and a couple more RBIs, ending the day 3-for-5. However, on August 7th, he was hitting just .188 with 9 home runs in spite of playing every day, when he nearly came to blows with manager Brandon Hyde in the middle of yet another lopsided loss to the Yankees. Two players had to step in to protect their manager, and Davis was immediately removed for a pinch-hitter. Davis later explained that things had reached a boiling point with the accumulating frustrations of the season, and that he managed to clear the air with his manager the next day. He finished the year at .179 in 105 games with 12 homers and 36 RBIs. He then hardly played at all in 2020, due to a hip injury, and when he did appear on the field, the results were terrible, as he batted just .115 in 16 games, without a homer. His final appearance came quietly on September 11th. He had hopes of overcoming the injury and coming back to play the final two seasons on his massive contract, but he threw in the towel in mid-August 2021, as he and the Orioles made a joint announcement that he had decided to retire and that he had reached a deal to have the final amounts due him defered into the future.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (2013)
  • AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2013)
  • AL Total Bases Leader (2013)
  • 2-time AL Home Runs Leader (2013 & 2015)
  • AL RBI Leader (2013)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 7 (2009 & 2012-2017)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 4 (2012, 2013, 2015 & 2016)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2013 & 2015)
  • 50-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2013)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (2013 & 2015)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (2013 & 2015)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jay Cannon: "Chris Davis breaks MLB record for longest hitless streak by position player", USA Today, April 8, 2019. [1]
  • Steve Gardner: "Orioles’ Chris Davis bounces back from career low point with sizzling spring start", USA Today, March 3, 2020. [2]
  • Brittany Ghiroli: "Hard-working Davis focused on adjustments",, January 8, 2018. [3]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Chris Davis' biggest offense is stupidity", USA Today Sports, September 12, 2014. [4]
  • Paul White: "Crush conundrum: Orioles wonder which Davis is real deal", USA Today Sports, September 8, 2014. [5]

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