BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Has Baltimore Orioles first-baseman Chris Davis actually figured out how to hit a baseball again? Initial results from the Birds’ Spring Training in Sarasota, Florida indicate that he may just have.

Davis has been among MLB’s worst hitters over the last two seasons. In 2018, over the course of 470 at-bats, he hit an awful .168 with 16 home runs, 49 RBI and 192 strikeouts. His 2019 average jumped nine points to .179 over 307 at-bats, with 12 home runs, 36 RBI and 139 strikeouts.  His ongoing extended slump included an 0-54 stretch that spanned the end of one season and the beginning of the next. The slugger actually contemplated retirement rather than continue his struggles.

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Two things kept him around. The first is that the longtime major leaguer, now 33 years old, still feels he can perform at a high level. Given how far he’s fallen, it’s easy to forget that the he was once a productive bat in the lineup. In his two best seasons (2013 and 2015), Davis hit .286, with 53 HRs and 138 RBI, and .262, with 47 HRs and 117 RBI. He led the majors in home runs both seasons.

The second is, of course, money. It was after that second ultra-productive season that Davis signed a seven-year, $161 million (guaranteed) contract. Davis is due a $17 million base salary through the 2022 season, with $42 million more deferred. His stark lack of production would have landed him on the bench if the Orioles were contender, even with the $93 million balance left on his contract. But they’re not, giving the team and their first baseman the luxury of time to work through his issues.

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Davis added 25 pounds in the offseason to restore some of his former power, and it seems to be working so far. Through five games and eight at-bats (14 plate appearances), he’s hitting .625 with three home runs, six RBI and only one strikeout. He’s also walked five times. His hot start should be kept in perspective, as this is only Spring Training, and pitchers are still working through their own issues as well. Still it’s still a promising development for the long-struggling Oriole.

With Davis hitting (for now), the Orioles had won five straight before tying the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday and averaged over seven runs per game during that span.

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Davis is swinging with renewed power and confidence. How that translates to regular season against big-league pitching remains to be seen. But it’s a nice Spring Training surprise.