Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Unbelievable Facts About Chris Davis

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.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Thoughts After Six-percent Of The Yankees Season

The New York Yankees have played nine games of their 162-game season. To put any kind of emphasis on trends so far would be pushing the short sample size mantra to a throbbing level. Can anything be gained from such an early look at how things are going? With ten players on the disabled list (take that!) and three series against teams headed for "also-ran" status, it would seem even more absurd to take any pulse thoughts at this early point. For the sake of an exercise (and because I felt like writing), let's take a look at the Yankees after six-percent of their season has been completed. Take it all with a grain of salt.

After watching Aaron Judge all spring, I really thought he would put up a better strikeout rate this season. I have been disappointed that he is striking out at prodigious rates and at 38%, his strikeout rate so far is the highest it has been since his 2016 cup of coffee season.

Gary Sanchez does appear to be back as an offensive force with a bat in his hands. After his pathetic showing of a year ago, that is welcome news. However, he does still have his penchant for driving fans crazy with bonehead plays. Getting picked off third with the bases loaded and no out is forgotten by a barrage of homers. But it was the second day in a row of getting picked off.  The catcher looks better at blocking pitches behind the plate and is socking the ball. But, man, give us a week of smarts too please.

If you ignore his walk rate, Domingo German is doing a pretty good Luis Severino impression right now. The key will be how that translates to better clubs than the Tigers and Orioles.

For the first time ever, I do not seem to mind that Luis Cessa is on the roster. It feels weird.

I have a strong feeling that Aaron Hicks is the next Jacoby Ellsbury without the MVP season on his resume. The guy just cannot stay on the field. And after watching what a bad back did to Don Mattingly and David Wright, I am not optimistic at all.

Good or bad, Luke Voit is fun to watch. The guy is the "Everyman" on the Yankees who wears everything on his sleeve. I do hope he picks up the pace though!

Who would have thought the Boston Red Sox would have such a start after last season? And who would have thought that the Red Sox' rotation looks terrible and the bullpen looks great? But...:::pinch:::...it is only after the first three series of the season.

I predicted Gleyber Torres to have a great season and he is making me look good so far! Love that kid.

Thus far, the signs are pointing in favor of me falling in like with DJ LeMahieu. Gio Urshela is growing on me too.

How can you not smile for Clint Frazier? If Mike Tauchman starts another game, I might have to get an Aaron Boone voodoo doll. I'm just kidding! I would never wish harm or threaten harm on anyone! Whew! One has to be so careful about what is said these days.

The Yankees really need Dellin Betances. The bullpen is obviously one body short right now. Most of the bullpen regulars are getting the job done, but we are missing that guy to come in and blow people away. Plus, his absence forces Jonathan Holder to pitch multiple innings and he should be limited to one. I hope this late start doesn't mean no extension and walking papers for Betances after the season.

I cannot help it. A little part of me dies inside when Austin Romine starts a game. I cannot help it! I long for the Cervelli days...

Speaking of Jonathans, Jonathan Loaisiga is in the same mold as Severino and German, but cannot locate his fastball. If he could get a clue where it was going occasionally, he will be a terrific pitcher.

I have been thinking about Sonny Gray's complaint about being forced to throw sliders with the Yankees. I think he may have a point. Are there any Yankees pitchers that do not feature a slider? Tampa Bay for years preached the change up. The Yankees under Larry Rothschild, seem to preach the slider. Just something to keep an eye on.

I hope J A Happ's first two starts do not mean that he is an aging pitcher with his best years behind him. He has not looked great at all.

The first nine games have shown that Zack Britton is not yet all the way back from where he was. Maybe he'll never be that guy again. I think the Yankees are better off with him, but if he could put some command together, it would make the world of difference for the bullpen.

Speaking of bullpens, yes, it is early yet, but the Yankees' mercenary refusal to engage David Robertson looks like the right call so far. He was brilliant for the Yankees in 2017, but much less so last year. Chad Green looks like the new Robertson except that Green does not walk anybody.

As much as people love him, I still insist that Brett Gardner is over-the-hill now and should only be a reserve. The occasional walk and his long at bats are nice, but the reality is that both Greg Bird and Luke Voit have better OPS figures than Gardner. And those two are considered to be struggling! I would point out that Bird's current OPS is right where PECOTA pegged him to be.

I am not worried about James Paxton. He looks terrific.

The Yankees did not maximize their opportunity for a strong start against two bad teams to start the season. They need to hold their own against the Astros in Houston for three games and then have a great home stretch against good and bad teams before having to endure a West Coast swing. Nine games does not mean a whole lot. But currently sitting 5-4 feels a lot better than sitting 2-4 did. Onward!