Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Baltimore Orioles' Chris Davis has curbed his instincts to go for even the marginal pitches on the home plate . Paul Sancya / AP Photo
Baltimore Orioles' Chris Davis has curbed his instincts to go for even the marginal pitches on the home plate . Paul Sancya / AP Photo

When a walk wasn't enough for Baltimore's Chris Davis

Davis is running away with the homers by picking his battles carefully, writes Gregg Patton.

Chris Davis built his reputation as a legitimate big-league home run hitter last year, when he put 33 over the wall.

This year, the Baltimore Orioles slugging first baseman may be building one of the great home run seasons of the post-steroid era. With 27 homers in 75 games, Davis is on track for 59, which would be the most in 50 years for anyone not tainted by drug scandals.

The season has yet to reach its halfway mark, over the first three months the 27-year-old left-handed hitter has been remarkably consistent.

He has more homers on the road than in his cosy home park, Camden Yards.

He hits them to all fields. And his overall numbers have improved dramatically.

His .341 batting average is 71 points above his career mark, and his more-selective approach at the plate (32 walks, compared with 37 in all of 2012) has bumped his on-base percentage from .326 last season to an impressive .412.

Instead of getting himself out by swinging at marginal pitches, Davis has learnt to wait for one he likes. Sounds easy, in theory, but only the greats can make a practice of it.

"I'm patiently aggressive," Davis told ESPN.com. "Last year I felt I had to do something to help the team every time I was at the plate because a walk wasn't good enough."

The patience is paying off. Davis has six more home runs than his closest pursuers, and may approach 60 before it is over.

Once, the idea of a Babe Ruthian 60-home run season had a magical quality to it - until the steroid-bloated swatters of 1998-2001 trampled all over it. Barry Bonds (a record 73) and Mark McGwire topped 70. Sammy Sosa broke 60 three times.

In the drug-testing years since, though, 60 has rarely been threatened. Ryan Howard came closest, with 58 in 2006. Only Jose Bautista, with 54 in 2010, has topped 50 in the past five years.

Davis grew up in Texas, and broke into the big leagues with Texas Rangers in 2008. As a part-time player, he demonstrated some of his power potential (21 homers in 2009), but he also struck out an average of once every three at bats.

During the 2011 season, he was traded to Baltimore where the manager, Buck Showalter, gave him room to develop as the everyday first baseman.

Davis has said he benefited, as well, from leaving behind the pressure of being the "hometown boy" in Texas.

If he still strikes out at a high rate (once per 3.35 at bats), when he does make contact, better things are happening.

"I'm not messing with Chris a lot now," Showalter told the New York Times. "I'm leaving him alone."

Right now, alone at the top.


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Floyd Mayweather lands punches on trainer Nate Jones on Tuesday at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas ahead of his May 3 championship unification bout with Marcos Maidana. Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP / April 22, 2014

In pictures: Floyd Mayweather trains for Maidana fight

Images from earlier in the week as Floyd Mayweather trained at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas ahead of his May 3 championship unification fight with Marcos Maidana.

 UAE rugby player Daniel Minks pushes against a Singapore tackler during Wednesday night’s Asian Five Nations Test. Sarah Dea / The National / April 23, 2014

UAE national rugby team needs to look within to raise standards

While domestic clubs like Jebel Ali Dragons and Abu Dhabi Harlequins find regional success, the UAE national side isn't benefitting from the talent pool in the country, writes Paul Radley.

 Ravindra Jadeja of Chennai Super Kings playing a shot in their Indian Premier League win over Rajasthan Royals at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. Jadeja scored 36 runs not out from 33 balls. Pawan Singh / The National / April 23, 2014

In pictures: Chennai Super Kings notch win behind do-everything Jadeja

Images from Wednesday night's Indian Premier League match in Dubai, where Ravindra Jadeja led Chennai Super Kings over Rajasthan Royals.

 Suresh Raina has scored 84 runs in three IPL matches so far this season for Chennai Super Kings. Ravindranatah K / The National

Suresh Raina has always been brightest in Chennai yellow

An enigmatic presence in India's line-up, writes Osman Samiuddin, Suresh Raina is at his freest, his easiest and his best with the IPL's Chennai Super Kings.

 Azzam crew member Luke Parkinson works on the new 65-foot carbon racing yacht during preparation for the Volvo Ocean Race. Courtesy Ian Roman / ADOR

A little calm after the storm for Azzam crew

Azzam skipper Ian Walker writes another monthly update ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race as his crew enjoy a 10-day break after some rough conditions following their delivery from the UK to Portugal.

 Singapore have nearly half the side in home-grown players and prefer not to be reliant on expatriates. Sarah Dea / The National / April 23, 2014

Asian Five Nations: Singapore ideal model for impatient UAE’s rugby federation

The UAE Rugby Federation are keen for their national team to have such heavy Emirati representation. They have a good template to follow.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National