Last season was Chris Davis‘ breakout year. The 26-year-old slugger, labeled a bust after failing to capitalize on his monstrous power earlier in his career, set personal bests in just about every offensive category. In the process, Chris Davis rewarded the Baltimore Orioles by helping lead them to their first postseason appearance in 15 years.
They say power hitters (who tend to run hot and cold) inflict 50 percent of their damage in 25 percent of the season, and that held true with Davis last year. He caught fire down the stretch, bashing 15 of his 33 home runs with 29 RBI and a 1.104 OPS from August 18 onward. At the time, it appeared to be nothing more than a hot streak from a streaky player, but now we can see that it marked the beginning of Chris Davis’ transformation into one of the best hitters in baseball. In the calendar year since, Davis has amassed 59 home runs, 142 RBI and 392 total bases. While such numbers became rather commonplace recently thanks to the steroid era exploits of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and others, they seem truly preposterous given baseball’s current pitching-dominated climate. The last five seasons have produced just one 50-homer campaign — Jose Bautista‘s 54 home run outburst in 2010 — and zero 150 RBI performances.
That will change if Chris Davis keeps hitting like Babe Ruth. Entering play today, Davis leads the majors in big flies, extra base hits, and AB/HR ratio. He’s going yard once every 10 at-bats, putting him on track to threaten the American League’s single season home run record (Roger Maris‘ 61). As it is, Davis projects to finish with 58 homers, 149 RBI, and close to 400 total bases — an accomplishment that used to mean something before the offensive explosion of the late 1990s/early 2000s diminished its significance. His evolution into a one-man wrecking crew has helped Baltimore contend in the AL East, where they sit just 5.5 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox.
Chris Davis would be a slam dunk, no-doubt-about-it MVP were it not for Miguel Cabrera, who’s in the midst of another special season as he shoots for his second straight MVP and Triple Crown. As good as Chris Davis has been with the stick, Cabrera’s been just a hair better, and it will be interesting to see how they perform and push each other throughout the rest of the summer. If both can finish out the season as well as they ended last year, they’re going to wind up with some truly ridiculous numbers.