Are Davis and Brown for real?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The two hottest hitters in baseball are Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis and Philadelphia outfielder Domonic Brown. Each have been mentioned numerous times in our player notes and fantasy pieces over the past few weeks as they bash the ball with impunity.

But will it last?

As good as Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera has been, Davis has been almost as good. And that's saying a lot considering Cabrera is on a pace ahead of last year when he won the American League Triple Crown.

While Cabrera leads the league in runs, hits, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage and total bases, Davis is on top in home runs (20), slugging percentage (.754) and OPS (1.194).

Fantasy owners assume that Cabrera can keep up the pace as he's done it before, but what about Davis?

Davis did smack 33 home runs and knock in 85 last season, but that was the first time in his career that be hit more than 21 homers in a season or drove in more than 59.

Of course, it was also the first time he'd gotten more than 400 at-bats in a season.

Davis is improved in almost every advanced category - from HR-FB ratio to plate discipline to contact percentage, according to fangraphs.com. But none is abnormally out of line with last season, which would indicate a possible fall in production. So while we aren't sure he can keep up his current out-of-this- world pace (read keeping up with Cabrera), the numbers say he should continue to be one of the best power hitters in the league.

This is Brown's first season producing at a level in which fantasy owners are excited. In 2012, he batted just .235 with five home runs and 26 RBI in 187 at- bats after being called up on July 31.

Through the first 56 games of 2013, Brown is batting .282 with an NL-leading 16 home runs, 40 RBI and 27 runs scored. That's a phenomenal jump in productivity and fantasy owners who have him on their roster or are thinking of trading for him need to know if it will continue for the next four months?

Brown's HR-FB ratio has jumped from 9.8 percent last season to an astounding 30.2 percent over the first two months of the season. That's of concern. So is the fact that while hitting 12 home runs in May, he walked a grand total of zero times.

But Brown made positive changes this spring, primarily controlling the length of his swing, and during the exhibition season he batted .356 with seven homers. So he's actually been producing at his current level for more than just the 50-plus regular season games.

Can he hit 12 home runs every month for the remainder of the season?

Certainly not! Pitchers will start to pitch him tougher or not at all and he'll need to be much more patient.

But has Brown raised his game to a new and improved level that can be expected to continue?

We believe the answer to that is yes. Brown's new projection includes more than 30 home runs, which considering his Yahoo ADP of 253 makes him one of the season's biggest fantasy bargains.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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