Chris Davis, the much-maligned, obscenely-paid first-baseman for the Baltimore Orioles established a record for batting futility that may never be reached again. Nobody has ever gone as many at bats in a row without a single base hit as Chris Davis has from the end of the 2018 season to today. The record is his alone and is the benchmark for putrid batting forever. But Davis' failure to hit is not a recent phenomenon. It actually goes back to the last month of the 2017 season. And the numbers are unfathomable.
I cannot grapple with my feelings about Chris Davis. A large part of me feels like I am piling on. Failure is no fun for anyone. At the same time, Davis is rich beyond his wildest dreams and will continue adding to that pile for years to come. I do not know. I guess mostly I feel badly for him.
The real problem for Chris Davis started in the last month of the 2017 season. His numbers were not great for the years 2014, 2016 and most of 2017. His batting average and strikeout rates were terrible. But his OPS+ hovered around league average for those years because of his walk rate and the decent power numbers. But then you get to the last month of 2017.
In that month, Chris Davis came to the plate a hundred times and he had 88 official at bats. He only had 14 hits and struck out 40 times. That works out to a .159 batting average, a .260 OBP and since he only had 29 Total Bases in 26 games, that worked out to a .330 Slugging Percentage. That gave him a .590 OPS for the month. Things have never improved since.
In 2018, Davis had arguably the worst batting season of all time. In 522 Plate Appearances and 470 At Bats, all Davis could muster was 79 hits and 41 walks. His season's batting average was .168. His On Base Percentage was .243 and his Slugging Percentage was a puny .296. His OPS of .539 was good for an OPS+ of 50 (100 is average) and rated a 46 in wRC+.
Let's add together the last month of 2017, all of 2018 and his zero for 28 start (with four walks) for 2019. That gives us a line of: 654 (PA), 586 (AB), 48 Runs, 93 Hits, 15 doubles, 20 homers, 59 RBI, 56 walks, 6 HBP and 247 strikeouts. What does that all add up to? A .159 Batting Average, a .237 On Base Percentage and a Slugging Percentage of .287. His OPS for all of that would then equal .524. Wowzers! His strikeout rate would be 38%. Consider that his 247 strikeouts far outpaced his combined total of hits and walks by 98!
It gets worse the more you look at it. In 2018, Chris Davis had a .327 OPS in games considered Late and Close. That is lower than many batters' On Base Percentage! His OPS was .399 in what were considered High Leverage situations. He had a .484 OPS facing "Ground Ball Pitchers." His OPS against "Power Pitchers" was .463. His OPS against pitchers with an average fastball was .485. He had a .493 OPS against left-handed pitchers.
These are all bizarre numbers! Here is another one for you: Since 1867, Chris Davis' -2.8 rWAR was tied for the eighth worst baseball-reference.com WAR season total ever. Fangraphs.com came in with a -3.1 fWAR which would have ranked Davis' 2018 as the fourth worst all time. Chris Davis' 127 times on base last season was tied for the sixteenth lowest all time for a player with over 500 plate appearances. And it was the worst since Todd Cruz in 1982 playing for the Mariners. And his .168 Batting Average of a year ago is the worst all time for a player with over 500 Plate Appearances.
Those are all numbers for the 2018 season. He has big fat zeroes for 2019. So stretching back to the last month of the 2017 season, no one has batted lower than Chris Davis...ever!
And, I can guarantee you that none of the players worse than Davis in WAR in a single season ever made $23 million for doing so.
What would you do if you were the Baltimore Orioles. The team cannot keep running him out there, can they? The money is a wash. It is bye bye. There is no way they will get any value from the deal. And the deal runs three more years after this one! The Orioles should simply cut their losses. It is totally embarrassing for a team to have a national television cut in to see if Davis would break the futility record. And the networks got their money's worth. Chris Davis needs to be put out of his misery and the fans need to have closure on this legendary saga of batting garbage dumpage.