Three years ago, a young first baseman with the Frisco Roughriders, the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, was making an impression on not only the minor leagues, but was turning heads with the big club.
In batting practice, he would hit tape-measure blasts that would make fans and scouts alike sit in awe. He was supposed to be the next big superstar for the Rangers. He was supposed to be the next big offensive threat at a corner infield spot. The kind of young hitter the Rangers were looking forward to.
Three years and several big-league appearances later, Chris Davis is not only wearing a different uniform, but the expectations of him have deflated.
Through his first two seasons (2008, 2009) with Texas, Davis showed the kind of power the Rangers knew he had, hitting a combined 38 home runs and driving in 114 runs in 193 games
While his home run numbers climbed from his first season to his second, so did his strikeouts. In 2008, Davis struck out 88 times in 295 at-bats. One season later, Davis would strike out 150 times in 391 at-bats.
His big-league career would take a nose dive from there.
In 73 games with Texas in 2010 and 2011, Davis struck out 64 times and quickly frustrated fans. Some wanted to see him succeed, they knew his potential and they knew what he was capable of. But it just wasn’t to be.
Every time the Rangers would send him back to Triple-A, Davis would become a home run machine and a pitcher’s nightmare. But every time they thought he had it figured out enough to finally make an impact in the big leagues, Davis would, again, prove them wrong and struggle through every at-bat.
In July 2011, the Texas Rangers decided they were going to part ways with their young first baseman, sending him, as well as pitcher Tommy Hunter, to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Koji Uehara.
Things haven’t gotten much better.
Through 54 at-bats with the Orioles, Davis has struck out 21 times and is hitting just .222 in 13 games. But that’s not where the story ends for him. In fact, the story takes yet another bad turn.
On Wednesday, the Orioles were taking on the New York Yankees, a game they would end up winning in 11 innings, 5-4. In that game, Davis struck out five times and came one pitch short of joining an elite club in major-league history. But not the kind of history any player would want to be known for.
Davis was looking at an 0-2 count and a possible sixth strikeout in one game. Had he gotten it, he would have joined Geoff Jenkins, Alex Gonzalez, Sam Horn, Cecil Cooper, Billy Cowan, Rick Reichardt and Dan Hoak as the only players to have struck out six times in one game.
Davis made sure that wasn’t going to happen, grounding out in his sixth at-bat and walking back to the dugout with the “platinum sombrero.”
What was once a promising young career has become a frustrating one instead. A player with so much potential just hasn’t been able to figure out his problems.
Maybe, just maybe, there will be a hitting coach who comes along and knows how to figure out the swing of young Chris Davis. And, instead of having numerous holes in his bat, Davis will be putting a lot of bruises in the sweet spot.