No one’s inclusion in the top 200 for 2013 surprises me more than Chris Davis. Entering last season Davis had over 1,000 mostly failed plate appearances at the major league level, and he wasn’t showing any signs of improvement. In 59 games in 2011 Davis struck out his usual 30% of the time, and his 5.2 BB% was a career-worst. Because of Davis’ style of play, he’s useless if he’s not hitting homers, and that year he hit just five in 59 games. It looked like the end of the line.
And then something sort of clicked. His strikeout and walk rates remained, well, bad, but he found his power stroke. For whatever reason, Davis has always had a very good BABIP, even during years when he’s struggled, and that counteracts a lot of the damage his high strikeout rate does. Best of all, our xBABIP and xBA formulas confirm that these high BABIPs are legitimate. Davis hits a ton of line drives, keeps fly balls to an acceptable level (while muscling out a large portion of them), and he seems to have a little Giancarlo Stanton in him (i.e. he hits the ball so hard that he’s prone to higher BABIPs because it’s so tough to field).
At a Glance
Strengths: HR, RBI, SLG
Neutral: R, BA, OBP, OPS
Best-case scenario: Jason Kubel (ARI)
Likely scenario: Dan Uggla (ATL), Pedro Alvarez (PIT), Mark Reynolds (CLE)
Worst-case scenario: Chris Johnson (HOU)
Chris Davis 2013 Fantasy Projection
Davis is a deeply flawed player, but one who has a lot of value because of the power he brings. Even if Davis strikes out 30% of the time, which he probably will, he can still bat near .270. The Orioles have a strong middle of the order, and that means Davis should have a lot of RBI chances batting sixth. His 25.2% HR/FB rate will be hard to maintain for a second straight year, but even a little regression leaves a 25-homer player.
Last year Davis worked his strengths to a 94th overall ranking. I’m not keen on drafting him there in 2013, but top 150 sounds good to me.