Player Profile: Chris Davisby Victor Wang
December 29, 2008
Christopher Davis seems to be a trendy pick of sorts for 2009. In fact, he has been picked in the top eight rounds in a few mock drafts that I have seen. After a breakout season in 2007, Davis had no problems with Double-A or Triple-A in 2008. His success did not stop in the majors as Davis put up a .285/.331/.549 line with Texas along with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs in only 295 at-bats. Davis, a first baseman in the minors in 2008, played 32 games at third base while with Texas. This third base eligibility only makes him a more attractive pick for 2009. Let's take a closer look at Davis and see if he's worth the hype.
YEAR AGE TEAM PA CT% UBB% ISO GB% FB% LD% BABIP HR/FB% 2008 22TEX 317 70.5 6 0.264 34.6 39.925.5 0.353 20.5
You can see why Davis had so much success last year. When he made contact with the ball, he was doing incredible damage to it. About 21 percent of his fly balls went for home runs and about 26 percent of his batted balls were line drives. He showed a similar profile in the minors where he struggled to make contact at times but the ball went a long way when he did make contact.
A few of Davis' stats look unsustainable. While his BABIP wasn't out of line given his line drive rate and isolated power last year, expect a regression there. Even though Davis has shown a tremendous ability to knock the snot out of the ball when he makes contact, it will be tough for him to keep his line drive rate and BABIP up to his 2008 numbers. With expected regression with his BABIP and a poor contact rate, Davis has a lot of batting average downside. Despite showing the ability to hit for average with a poor contact rate in the minors, expect this to catch up with him next year in the batting average department. Also, don't expect much help with steals from Davis.
The biggest plus for Davis is clearly his power. Scouts have raved about his power and his minor and major league stats back this up. Given a full season in the majors, Davis should hit at least 25-30 homers with the potential for more. While Davis batted towards the bottom of the order during his stint in the majors, expect him to move up next year, increasing his potential for RBIs. Davis should be one of the top powers sources for third base next year. The question is, can you deal with his risk?
Experience: Very high risk. While Davis had a great track record throughout the minors, we still haven't seen a full seasons worth of performance from him in the majors. What happens when pitchers adjust to Davis? You'll have to wait and see how Davis adjusts in 2009.
Playing Time: Medium risk. Davis likely won't play much third base in 2009 given that Texas has a few options for third base. The main playing time concern for Davis would be if Texas decides to give Jarrod Saltalamacchia some time at first base. There is also the possibility that he gets sent to the minors if he struggles out of the gate.
Skill Risk: Medium risk. As mentioned before, Davis' strikeout rate means that he has a lot of batting average downside. However, he does have his power to fall back on. He can not afford to have his contact rate get any worse.
Age: Medium risk. Davis is still developing as a player which means that despite plenty of upside, Davis' development could still take a turn for the worse. His development with his plate discipline and how he adjusts to big league pitching will ultimately determine what you get from Davis.
Burnout Risk: Low risk. Davis had back problems while pitching in junior college. He hasn't had any serious injury problems in professional baseball and nothing suggests that he should have injury problems in the immediate future.
Overall Risk: Medium risk. The biggest concern I would have with Davis is with his batting average. In fact, I wouldn't be that surprised if he put up a 2008 Mike Jacobs line for next year. Davis also has his risk spread out over a few factors, meaning there are a couple of different areas where things could go wrong for him.
If you are looking for power, Davis will be an attractive target after the early rounds. However, you have to ask yourself if you can deal with the batting average downside. Personally, I'm a little too risk averse to go for a guy like Davis in the seventh or eighth round. While I can see that his power potential is very appealing, I think he's a little overhyped right now. Feel free to take a chance on him, but there will likely be safer options in the spots where Davis has been going so far.
Victor Wang's work on OPS has been featured in SABR's By the Numbers magazine, and was the 2007 recipient of SABR's Jack Kavanagh Memorial Youth Baseball Research Award. He can be reached via email here.
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