When Khris Davis appeared on the scene in 2013 with the Milwaukee Brewers, it was generally assumed that HE was the other Chris Davis. That season, the Orioles Chris Davis hit 53 home runs to go along with 138 RBI and a .286 batting average. He finished 3rd in the AL MVP voting. The Orioles won the AL East the following season while Chris dipped in all his categories, but was back in 2014 with 47 home runs. After 2015, the Orioles signed the 30 year old to a 7 year, $161M contract as it appeared his skill set mostly consisting of “swing really hard” would carry on. “Power is slump proof”, the old adage says.
The old adage did not know the 2018-2019 Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles.
Times have changed, and now it is Khris Davis who pops to mind when you hear Chris Davis, as he led the league in home runs with last season, his third straight season of 40+ home runs. Perhaps there are only so many home runs in the universe for two sluggers with the same phonetic name, not to mention trying to emulate the legendary Crash Davis of Bull Durham fame.
Meanwhile, as Giuseppe chronicled last week CDavis set the new all time mark for most hitless at bats dating back to last season. That was already after setting the record for lowest batting average in a season for a full time player at .168.
Now the good news. The streak is over as he got 3 hits Saturday! On top of that – today he hit a HOME RUN!
Perhaps Giuseppe and I missed it all along and indeed Chris Davis will become the AL comeback player of the year!?
Lost in some of this is of course the fact that Chris Davis is a human being. He is also just 33 years old, 2 years younger than myself and 18 older than Giuseppe for perspective. While my days of UCSD intramural glory are behind me, I can still flash the leather and swing the bat as shown below…
(Note to editor: make sure this is my home run from 2018 summer rec league)
The point is – as he got closer to the “record” of futility, it was perhaps especially disheartening to see it happen to someone who by all accounts works hard, is a good person, and of course we know that at some point he was very good – among the best – in hitting a baseball a long, long way. Do we want to celebrate such a fall or do we become no better than Romans cheering on Gladiators or perpetuate Crying Jordan memes??
As he whiffed his way towards the record books, the Baltimore crowds turned from the boo birds of Opening Day to supporting him. The fans coming to games 5 and 6 in Baltimore are no longer the fans who will catch one or two games a year. For a team whose biggest question concerns how many games they will lose this season, these fans show up whether the team is winning the American League East in 2014 or setting loss records in 2018. To them, players become like a family of sorts. We yell, we boo, we fight, but always at the heart of baseball has been something just a little sentimental.
We love when Ken Griffey Sr and Jr homer back to back.
We love that Jeter gets a walk off hit in his final AB.
When Stephen Piscotty homers in his first at bat after his mother’s death.
We love it then – when we see humanity in baseball. Life alongside excellence.
Chris Davis just endured a stretch of poor performance that most of us cannot imagine in our professional lives. We don’t want that. We can point to it as a symbol of a bad contract from the start (true) and the Orioles getting what they deserve, but even that is different than wishing bad luck on Chris Davis.
The true fans know this. They understand this. They have watched when he was the Chris Davis and will support him even now, as he becomes fully and completely the other Chris Davis.