24 May 2018

Chris Davis Has Been MLB's Worst Player In The Past Year

In a way, this is arbitrary. In a moment, I'm going to show you just how bad Chris Davis has been in the last calendar year. But in another way, it's not. In 2015, Davis was very good. In 2016, he was pretty good. In 2017, he was not good. And this season, he's been so bad that it's hard to comprehend. Davis has always been a streaky player, and a player's rise or fall does not always happen in a linear fashion. Still, Davis has been trending down for a while.

As a team, the Orioles are terrible. It's not all Davis's fault. But as the team's highest-paid player and worst-performing position player, well, the criticism is going to come and questions will rightfully be asked.

FanGraphs makes it easy to sort by calendar years, so these numbers are coming from there. In the last calendar year, Chris Davis has an fWAR of -2.0. Among all qualified players, that is the worst. It's not even that close, as the second worst, Albert Pujols, is at -1.5.

Let's just look at hitting then, because Davis is a first baseman, and first basemen are supposed to be good hitters. In the last calendar year, he has a wRC+ of 62. That's third worst, behind Rougned Odor (60) and Billy Hamilton (61). Odor is a second baseman; Hamilton is a center fielder. Those two positions aren't necessarily supposed to have great hitters. More numbers: Davis's batting average (.185) is the worst. His on-base percentage (.267) is second worst. His slugging percentage -- Davis is supposed to be a masher! -- is fourth worst (.349).

In 2018, the league average first baseman has posted a wRC+ of 112. In 2018, Davis has a wRC+ of 30. He already has an fWAR of -1.5 this season; the next two closest players are at -1.0.

Davis's offensive production has completely collapsed. There's not much to say other than to simply wonder: What in the world is going on? Well, that's not entirely true, because after last night's 11-1 loss to the White Sox, Jim Palmer of MASN wondered why Davis isn't trying different things and criticized his approach at the plate.

Here's a portion, courtesy of Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun:
"You've got to throw that away, and you've got to make some adjustments. I don't see anything. I don't see a wider stance, I don't see a closed stance, I don't see him dropping my hands. I don't see anything. And we're seeing the results. He's just in a prolonged slump. You know, they say he works hard. Ehh. He told everybody in spring training that he worked with [hitting coach] Scott Coolbaugh. I asked Scott in spring training, I go, 'Hey, you must have really put in a lot of work.' He goes, 'We didn't work.' So, you know, I don't believe anything."
There's more, so make sure to read the rest of Meoli's article. But also, here's part of Palmer's conversation with Rick Dempsey, and it includes a clip of Davis striking out and not following the ball across the plate.
Palmer's criticisms are justified, and he certainly isn't giving a ringing endorsement of Coolbaugh, either. So when Buck Showalter talks about how his players care a lot, and that they're working hard and trying a million things to get things back to how they were, maybe you don't just have to take his word for it. I'm sure the players care -- who really wants to fail over and over again, especially on a large stage? -- but to see Davis struggle this mightily makes you wonder what types of adjustments and fixes the O's are trying to make.

11 comments:

Michael Sheckells said...

Speechless after watching that clip of Davis looking down the 3rd base line.

Maybe he'll save face and retire sooner rather than later.... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Aaron Smith said...

Is it Really Davis' fault the Orioles gave a 150m contract to a player who already had a sub .200 BA season under his belt? Let's not pretend we didn't see this coming. Maybe not quite THIS awful but at least close to it.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

What does it matter if it's his fault or not? The team will continue to be criticized for the contract, and so will Davis. That comes with the territory.

Did anyone see this coming quite this early? No, they didn't.

PTCello said...

That brief video clip was revealing. Chris Davis is not looking at the ball at all. Either he can’t see it, or isn’t trying to see it. That was just one single pitch, so we can’t know if that a regular occurrence, but if it is then the question becomes whether there’s a mental issue involved( maybe extreme ADD?) or it is genuine apathy.
If it is literally apathy, then it might be possible to sue him for recovery of the contract on the grounds that he’s not making an effort. That would be a very difficult lawsuit to win, and the cost even of victory would be very high, but it is worthwhile to collect additional evidence.
Meanwhile, I don’t think there’s any reason to continue to play him. Put Trumbo at first, which solves three problems; it gives Trumbo playing time while keeping him out of right field, it sits Davis, and allows for a much better right field defender.

Aaron Smith said...

Also explain this nugget: Why on earth is Davis batting in THE MIDDLE of the lineup? Ok, I get it: they have to play Davis because they paid him. But why bat him 5th? Literally any other player on the team, including Alex Cobb, is more worthy of the 5th spot in the lineup.

Jon Shepherd said...

Batting order typically has more to do with established social norms/expectation than anything much to do with performance. The idea is a comfortable player is a productive player.

Elisabeth Hill said...

If only the Tigers had signed him...

Unknown said...

To me that clip is sad and revealing. That is severe adult ADHD. Anyone who has ever had someone in their life who suffers with this, just think the next time you say something dismissive like, "just get your **** together man!'

The idea that Davis doesn't care is absurd. I also have severe adult ADHD. It breaks our hearts that we never seem to be able to live up to our potential. This is killing Chis,and I really feel for him.

This also shows me what I already know, nothing actually works to combat the symptoms of ADHD like Adderall. The league should stop playing doctor, and give the man back his medicine.

Jon Shepherd said...

MLB suggests vyvanse, but it was Davis' decision. Davis tested out options before the 2015 season and settled on vyvanse.

I believe adderall is still the predominant drug used to treat ADHD under TUEs.

Robert Barnes said...

Jon, I didn't realize it was Chis' choice, but I understand why he would make that choice. Adderall, as effective as it is, is hard drugs. When you get the generic version (which I have) the label reads "Amphetamine Salts." I literally do not get my prescription filled very often, and take it even less, because long term I find the negatives outweigh the positives. It sucks for Orioles fans, but I can't blame Chris for making the same choice. Maybe it's to simplistic to see this as the only factor, but it sure seems to me that Davis' fall off coincides directly with the prescription change, and as a fellow veteran of ADHD life, that makes perfect sense to me.

Jon Shepherd said...

But what about his 2015 season, which was fairly incredible and led him into this long term contract? His TUE was for vyvanse that year. That came after his terrible 2014 season when he got caught using adderall without a TUE. Does vyvanse lose effectiveness over long term usage?