To say Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has struggled out of the gates this season would be an understatement.
Through 57 games this season, Davis is hitting just .150 with four homers and 15 RBI while posting just a .227 on-base percentage. He’s struck out 86 times which is nearly triple the number of hits (31) that he’s collected this season. This type of performance is not what the O’s were expecting when they signed Davis to a seven-year, $161 million deal after the 2015 season.
Based on his performance to date, Davis is on pace to finish the season hitting .150/.225/.221 with nine homers, 36 RBI and 211 strike outs against just 46 walks. In that pacing, he would tally approximately 76 hits over the course of the full season. Based on his average annual salary of $23 million under the terms of his new contract, that means that the Orioles would be paying approximately: $300,000 per hit, $638,000 per RBI and $2.5 million per home run this season.
In the updated ZIPS projections on FanGraphs, they’re not expecting much better from Davis over the course of the rest of the season as they project him to finish with a .182/.267/.328 slash line, 19 homers, 46 RBI and 88 hits with 203 strikeouts in 135 games played and 548 plate appearances.
Historically, those projections would place Davis as having one of the worst seasons of all-time among players qualified for their league’s batting title (more than 500 plate appearances) according to Baseball-Reference. The worst season of the expansion era for a hitter with more than 500 plate appearances currently belongs to Don Wert, third baseman for the Detroit Tigers in 1968, when he hit exactly .200 with 12 homers and 47 RBI. Interestingly enough, Wert made the American League All-Star team in that season. Unquestionably the same won’t be said for Davis this year.
Davis isn’t the only former All-Star slugger that’s been unable to find his previous form this season. Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano was recently demoted all the way down to Single-A. Sano was hitting .203/.270/.405 with seven homers and 27 RBI this season but as WJZ’s Mark Viviano notes, the Twins had the option to send him to the minors to try and correct his issues. That’s a luxury the Orioles do not have.
Either way, Davis has another four years and $92 million left on his contract, which looks more and more like an albatross by the day.