08 August 2018

Chris Davis Bounces Back to Replacement Level

Chris Davis has always seemed unique.  Early in his career, Davis was Cuban National Series Pedro Cerano in AAA and MLB Pedro Cerano without a proper sacrifice (see Major League).  In other words, once off speed pitching reached a certain level of precision and movement, Davis was dead in the water.  The difference between a solid .300 hitter and a sub .200 bat was an amazing study in how his contact tool was on a threshold with a deep dropoff.

Occupying that threshold contact performance always made him seem like a player who should not be completely depended on.  It was a signing I was fully against because the outcome seemed so likely to fail and fail spectacularly, but not like this.  His performance this year was foreseeable, but not so soon.  I ran a comp model a couple months before he signed when Peter Angelos made his second public remark about the need to re-sign Davis.  The model thought there was a 15% chance he would be worth less than 0.9 bWAR in 2018.  His -2.0 bWAR so far this year was not seen to be possible until around 2022.

In fact, no reasonable person or model would have thought that Davis' performance was possible.  From a historical sense, few players have been as terrible as he has this year.  On a practical sense, in situations where a player performed as poorly as Davis, said player would cease playing.  The Orioles keep trotting Davis out into the field and largely out of desperation with such a heavy salary on his shoulders.

Back in July, I wrote about Davis' undesirable quest to become the worst baseball player in history.  I put forward three potential second half outcomes:

  • Optimistic Outcome - 204/293/406, This level of performance is fairly poor and would net Davis a 0.1 fWAR outcome for the rest of the season.  This is replacement level.  This is not what you want from a player and definitely not what you want for a player who has four more seasons to go on his contract.
  • Davis 2.0 - 191/253/456, This is the line Davis put up once he got back from Buck's vacation from June 22nd to July 13th. That flip in OBP to SLG actually caused a significant decrease in fWAR.
  • Pre-June 22nd Davis - 150/227/227, Davis performing as he did in the first part of the season would have put him in contention for the worst season in the history of professional baseball in a major league.
In the time since the article, Davis has slashed 164/292/418.  This is the optimistic outcome, being a replacement level player.  If Davis is able to continue on this path, then he will no longer be in contention for the worst season ever.  Instead, he looks to settle in around -2 fWAR and have roughly the 30th worst 100 game or more season in a major league season out of about 18,000 seasons.


Rob said...

I just can't figure out why Showalter insists on batting him so high up in the lineup...

Unknown said...

So, any thoughts on his prospects for not being the worst first baseman in baseball next year? Through the rebuild?