Orioles’ Davis suffers nightmarish season at plate


Associated Press

BALTIMORE

Chris Davis doesn’t blame the fans at Camden Yards for showering him with boos, especially when he’s walking back to the dugout after another strikeout.

The Orioles slugger is enduring a nightmare season. Although his power numbers have improved slightly since a recently mandated layoff, Davis is batting .156 with seven homers, 24 RBIs and 99 strikeouts at the midpoint of the season.

Not exactly what the Orioles were expecting when they signed the left-handed hitting first baseman to a guaranteed seven-year, $161 million contract in January 2016.

At the time of the deal, Davis averaged 42 home runs and 109 RBIs over the previous three seasons and was coming off a year in which he hit .262 with 47 homers and 117 RBIs.

Since then, his production has dipped annually. His 2017 numbers — .215, 26 and 61 — were downright prolific compared to this year.

Thus, the jeers from the home fans, who have grown weary of watching the struggles of the highest-paid player on the worst team in the big leagues.

“I understand their frustration,” Davis said. “I know exactly what I’m capable of and what I’ve done in the past. I know that the standard is high and I haven’t been playing that well. But I have to move forward and continue to try to find a way to still have an impact on this season.”

It’s probably too late for his bat to make a difference. His most significant influence on the team, unfortunately, is that his sizable contract makes it that much more difficult for Baltimore to pay big bucks to several of its pending free agents, most notably Manny Machado.

The Orioles and Davis appear destined to be together through the 2022 season, so both sides must make the best of it. That’s why Davis was given an eight-game hiatus in June to get his swing down and his head right. Up to that point, he had tried just about everything else.

“For me, it was exhausting,” Davis said. “My solution to a lot of my problems in baseball has always been to work. I felt as long as I was working, as long as I was trying, that I would figure it out. This is the first time in my career when I was kind of at a point where I didn’t know what else to do.”

Upon his return, on June 26 in Atlanta, Davis homered and drove in two runs. Over the past 10 games, he’s hitting .158 with two doubles, two homers, nine RBIs and 13 strikeouts.

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