For years, Khris Davis was the model of consistency. Now, when play begins for the 2020 season, he will be the key to the success of the A’s lineup.
Over the past few years, one could almost write Khris Davis‘ season statistics in pen during March. We knew he would produce a .247 batting average – he did that for four consecutive years. Likewise, he would hit over 40 homers, doing so for three consecutive seasons. Davis had become a key member of the A’s lineup, a consistent run producer that could be depended upon.
However, last season, Davis showed signs of mortality. He produced a meager .220/.293/.387 batting line, with his OPS+ dropping below 100 for the first time in his career. Davis’ power decreased, as he had just 23 homers and 11 doubles on the year.
A look at Davis’ ratios show that he was essentially the same hitter he had always been. He struck out in 27.4% of his plate appearances while drawing a walk in 8.8% of the time he went to the plate. Those numbers are close to his career 26.7% and 8.6% rates respectively. Likewise, his 24% line drive rate is one point lower than his career mark.
The biggest difference came in his ability to put the ball in the air. When Davis did hit a fly ball, it left the yard 13.1% of the time. The problem was that Davis did not hit the ball in the air nearly as often, as his fly ball rate dropped 11.4 points from 2018, down to 37.4% This also led to an increase in his ground ball rate, as that rose by 6.8 points to 42.1%.
In an era of launch angles and players trying to hit the ball in the air, Davis did the opposite. Considering the juiced ball (despite MLB’s protestations otherwise) that change led to his disappointing 2019 campaign. Fortunately, this appears to be an easy enough fix, as Davis just needs to get back to doing what he had been in the past.
Getting Davis back to form may be the key to the lineup in 2020. Second base is unsettled, and the A’s are relying upon rookie Sean Murphy as their primary catcher. The duo of Matt Chapman and Matt Olson are as good a tandem as any in the game, but Oakland needs to have that third run producer in the lineup. Marcus Semien and Roman Laureano had career years in 2019, but can they replicate that success?
Khris Davis has a track record of being the power threat that the A’s need in the lineup. A simple adjustment might make the difference.