Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 11/15/14

[Editor's note: While working on this analysis of the Baltimore Orioles' chances of contending into September, Andrew put together a section on Chris Davis. It's so long and such in-depth statistical analysis that we're just breaking it out as its own article.]

Chris Davis has finally begun to translate his well-documented minor league success into his big league game.

While Davis’ 25+ home run pace is in line with his career averages, his current .260 batting average has been a welcome surprise for the Orioles.

Analyzing Davis’ statistics, there is certainly reason for optimism: Davis’  batting average on balls in play is .329, which, although high, is absolutely sustainable. When Davis hits a line drive or a fly ball, he gets a hit better than 50% of the time (.511 avg), and that statistic is not a mistake–when Davis hits the ball squarely, he hits it hard. Even more encouragingly, since Davis is a power hitter a good majority of his balls in play will inevitably be fly balls and line drives.

The problem with Davis this year however (as has been his problem throughout his career), is his pathetic strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Currently, Davis strikes out 5 times for every 1 walk–and Davis strikes out a lot. His 108 strikeouts this year lead the Orioles by a comfortable margin, and keep in mind, this is an Orioles team that includes Mark Reynolds, one of the most prolific strikeout hitters in Major League history.

A further analysis of Davis’ statistics reveals another interesting trend: When facing a pitcher for the first time in a game this year, Davis is hitting .285 with and OPS over .800. However, when Davis is facing a pitcher who he already has batted against in a game, his average drops down to .230.

The reason for this disparity is that pitchers throw Davis fewer strikes in his subsequent at bats against them–in other words, they pitch around him. While this should lead to more walks for Davis, it accomplishes exactly the opposite–it leads to more strikeouts because Davis continues to swing, whether the ball is down the heart of the plate or in the dirt.

Davis is currently swinging at 38.6% of pitches he sees outside the strike zone, which is over 8% greater than the league average. Perhaps more troubling, Davis is only making contact with 55% of the non-strike pitches that he swings at, which is 12% below the league average. Thus Davis swings at more balls than the average MLB player and makes contact with a lower percentage of those pitches than the average MLB player. It should therefore not come as a surprise that Davis is among the league leaders in strikeouts.

Luckily for Davis, there is a relatively simple solution: stop swinging at bad pitches.

If Davis wants to sustain any long term success in the major leagues, he must adopt a much more selective approach at the plate. Davis’ swing is fundamentally sound (it’s actually a thing of beauty), and his consistently high BABIP suggests that there is no problem with his timing or vision. Rather, the problem is with his selectivity.

By narrowing the zone in which he swings at pitches, Davis will undoubtedly accrue more walks and strikeout less. More importantly, he will force pitchers to throw him strikes, which will allow him to do what he does best: hit the ball hard.

Whether Davis will be able to adopt a more selective approach in the future remains unclear. However one thing is for sure–his future absolutely depends on it.

Davis is arbitration eligible for the first time in 2013 and under team control until 2016. If he can figure out how to become more selective, he could and should become a building block of the Orioles offense for years to come.

Under this scenario, the Orioles could buy out the rest of his arbitration-eligible years and sign him to a long term extension at a very reasonable rate. However, If the Orioles don’t see him as a long term fit, it is possible that they will try to move Davis. perhaps this coming off season, when he is at his peak value.

As an Orioles fan, I am rooting for Davis to become a face of the franchise, but as a more arbitrary observer, I realize that such an arrangement may not be in the best interest of the franchise.

*****

The source I used for the statistics was fangraphs.com


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

DeMarco Murray: 'I'm not worried about the Cowboys'

Turner has great quote in defense of Bridgewater

Gary Bettman's quote about expansion makes no sense

Beltre sends Richards invoice for three broken bats

Herschel Walker: Vikings should trade Adrian Peterson

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Raiders fielding calls about fourth overall pick

WATCH: UAB football player brings helmet to graduation

Andrew Luck to students: 'I'm only 25, I don't have advice'

Mark Sanchez: Tebow is another arm while Bradford recovers

Report: Former LSU CB Jalen Collins failed multiple drug tests

Six players suspended for White Sox-Royals brawl

WATCH: Demetrious Johnson wins with last-second submission

WATCH: Jerryd Bayless beats Bulls with buzzer-beater

John Legend catches Belichick checking out Chrissy Teigen

Jim Rice to Jim Palmer: 'Quit complaining'

Time Warner-Comcast failed merger hurts Dodgers fans

WATCH: Bucks mascot devours fan

Protestors tried to have Orioles-Red Sox game called off

Greg Hardy abandons his Bentley during flash flood

WATCH: LeBron James hits full-court shot after practice

Peyton Manning announces $3 million gift to Tennessee

WATCH: Leah Still scores TD in Temple spring game

WATCH: Todd Gurley shares video of himself sprinting

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

UAB player brings helmet to graduation

Leah Still scores in Temple spring game

Sanchez shares thoughts on Tebow

Stephen A. Smith blasts Tom Brady

Kris Humphries apologizes for Jenner tweet

Five most boring NFL prime time matchups for 2015

Bruce Jenner: "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman"

Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota: Perception vs. reality

Report: Gronk dating former Patriots cheerleader

NFL exec compares Jameis Winson to JaMarcus Russell

NFL does not care about Rams' future in St. Louis

Nothing gleams like late-round draft gold

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.