Time to crush
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis' nickname "Crush" has had a different meaning in 2014 than it did last season.

After hitting .286 with 53 homers and 138 RBI in 2013, Davis has batted .201 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI this season, crushing fantasy owners who drafted him in the first round.

It's been especially bleak lately, as Davis has gone 3-for-39 (.077) with 17 Ks in his last 11 games. He also hasn't had a multi-hit game since June 11.

But Davis isn't going to play at replacement level much longer.

Aside from a lower home-run-per-fly-ball ratio (HR/FB), Davis hasn't been dramatically different that the hitter he was the past two seasons.

Here's his batted-ball breakdown from 2012-13: 22.5 percent line-drive rate (LD%), 35.6 percent ground-ball rate (GB%), 41.8 percent fly-ball rate (FB%), 27.7 HR/FB.

Compare that with his batted-ball splits from this season: 26.2 LD%, 34.5 GB%, 39.3 FB%, 21.2 percent HR/FB.

In 2012-13, Davis had a 37.6 percent chase rate, a 70.1 percent contact rate, a 29.8 percent strikeout rate and an 8.8 percent walk rate.

In 2014, he's recorded a 31.2 percent chase rate, a 67.2 percent contact rate, a 31 percent strikeout rate and a 13.1 percent walk rate.

As you can see, in most of the categories where he's experienced a decline it hasn't been a significant one and he's actually made a large improvement in a few areas, namely chase rate, walk rate and line-drive rate.

And while he's had a dramatic decrease in HR/FB, Davis' average fly-ball distance hasn't regressed much. In 2013, his fly balls traveled an average distance of 308.66 feet, eighth highest in baseball, according to baseballheatmaps.com. This year, they've gone 305.69 feet, also eighth highest in baseball.

The major difference between the past two seasons and this one is Davis' batting average on balls in play (BABIP). He had a .336 BABIP in 2012-13, but his BABIP is down 84 points to .252 in 2014.

With a higher line-drive rate than the past two seasons and a similar average fly-ball distance as he had in 2013, the only explanation for such a steep decline in BABIP is bad luck.

It's likely Davis' 2013 season will go down as an outlier in his career so I'm not saying he'll suddenly revert to that form, but there's a distinct possibility he'll produce at a level similar to what he did in the second half of 2012 -- .269, 19 HR, 45 RBI, .867 OPS in 249 at-bats -- after this year's All-Star break.

Davis will soon be crushing baseballs again instead of fantasy teams, and now is the time to buy low.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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