Fantasy Impact: Orioles Re-Sign Chris Davis
After testing the open market, Chris Davis will return to Baltimore, penning a seven-year, $161 million contract with the Orioles. Davis slugged 47 home runs for the Orioles in 2015 and had a .923 OPS. There had not been too much interest on the open market for Davis at the price point he demanded, and pundits saw the Orioles shifting their interest to Yoenis Cespedes. Even though Baltimore will still be looking at top corner outfielders like Cespedes or Carlos Gonzalez as we near Spring Training, Davis rejoining Adam Jones in the middle of the Baltimore lineup is a huge boost in the strong AL East.
Read below for the fantasy impact of Davis returning to Charm City.
Since breaking into the league with 17 home runs in 80 games for the Rangers in 2008, Davis has established himself as one of the most feared sluggers in baseball. Davis has smacked 159 home runs over the last four seasons, but there are issues to fear regression in Davis. For all the home runs Davis hits, he is only one season removed from hitting .196 over 127 games and topped 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career in 2015. The 2014 performance came a year after slugging 53 home runs and topping a 1.000 OPS. Davis’ talent is well known but so too is his volatility. He also does not hit for average. His average is only .255 for his career, but his high walk rate has seen his OBP top .360 in two of the last three seasons.
Davis has a strikeout percentage of 31% for his career, showing that he has a tough time putting the ball in play, but he has seen his BB/K ratio grow to a respectable 0.40 in 2015. The key difference between the Crush Davis we have seen (2013 and 2015) and the Crash Davis we have seen (2011 and 2014) is his ability to pull the ball. When the left-handed swinging Davis is going right, he is able to hit the ball hard to right field. His pull percentage has gone up in each of the last six seasons, but his hard hit ball percentage was at a career high 41.4% in 2015. A jump on batting average on balls in play from .242 in 2014 to .319 in 2015 can be attributed to the fact that he hit the ball harder, but it is more likely that improved performance is a result of a career-low 31.8% ground balls.
Returning to Baltimore is the best decision for Davis, as he has a .927 OPS at Camden Yards over his career, slugging 95 home runs in 315 games. His OPS at Camden Yards is his third best for any stadium that he has played at least 10 games, but his best performances are actually in another AL East ballpark. In 40 games at Toronto’s Rogers Center, Davis has smashed 13 home runs, knocked in 31 RBI, and has a 1.129 OPS. Most of Davis’ opponents have been AL East foes throughout his career, and he has hit 91 home runs in 354 games against the AL East, averaging 42 home runs per 162 games.
It is tough to assess the fantasy value of Davis, as he has been both a breakout star and a bust over the last three years. No one can doubt his power as he is almost absolutely going to hit 30 home runs in 2016, but that is really the only certainty in his profile. Fantasy owners are looking to grab him in the third round or higher and that may not be a great decision. Look at him as a top-10 1B at a loaded position, but do not overspend for the slugger.