With Opening Day only a week away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.
1B Chris Davis
Opening Day age: 31
Contract status: Under contract through the 2022 season
2016 stats: .221/.332/.459, 38 HR, 84 RBI, 99 R, 1 SB, 665 PA
Why to be impressed: Despite his underwhelming batting average, Davis still ranked third on the 2016 Orioles in on-base percentage behind only Hyun Soo Kim and Manny Machado and posted the third-biggest home run total of his career. The slugger also recorded the highest walk rate of his career, continuing a trend of improving in that department every year since arriving in Baltimore in 2011.
Why to be concerned: Davis striking out too much is hardly a new concern, but the first baseman shattered a career high with 79 of his 219 being of the looking variety as he swung less frequently than ever in 2016. The left-handed hitter also hit a career-low percentage of line drives and more ground balls than he has since 2012, a trend that doesn’t bode well for his production if it continues in 2017.
2017 outlook: The Orioles and Davis will hope that a lingering thumb injury largely explained the aforementioned trends regarding his performance at the plate last season. Expecting Davis to ever challenge his all-around 2013 season is unrealistic, but coming closer to what he did two years ago appears reasonable if he’s able to stay healthy in 2017.
Not-so-scientific projections for 2017: .239/.346/.485, 41 HR, 99 RBI, 103 R, 2 SB, 655 PA