Is Davis a nugget?

As the Orioles approached the 2012 season, I implored them to give Nolan Reimold and Chris Davis a minimum of 500 at-bats and determine whether they were legitimate major league hitters with a future in Baltimore. Play Reimold in left field. Keep Davis at first base. Figure it out.

Reimold hasn’t played since April 30 because of a herniated disc in his neck that required surgery. The jury is still out on him. Davis has become the regular designated hitter with Jim Thome on the disabled list and Mark Reynolds giving the Orioles plus-defense at first.

I’m not sure if Davis is a nugget, but he’s one heck of a streaky hitter.

Davis went 4-for-26 on the last homestand, but his opposite-field three-run homer last night off Rick Porcello gave the Orioles a 3-2 victory over the Tigers and a chance to win the series this afternoon.

The guy has ridiculous power. He just flicked his bat at the ball and sent it over the left-field fence.

davis-c-sidebar-bat-white.jpgDavis had gone 56 at-bats without a homer, his last one coming on July 31. He’s hit two in 28 career games and 105 at-bats against the Tigers.

Going into today’s game, Davis is batting .253/.304/.437 with 19 homers and 59 RBIs in 387 at-bats. He should surpass 20 home runs with more than a month left in the season. How many fans would gladly take that kind of production from him, streaks and all?

Keep those hands raised while I count.

Davis, 26, will be in the lineup again today against the Tigers’ Doug Fister, who’s 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA in his last seven starts. Davis is 2-for-8 lifetime against Fister, including a home run and four strikeouts.

Small sample size.

Davis could wind up at first base again if Reynolds is suspended for his rippage of the umpires following Friday night’s loss. He’s batting .312/.336/.500 with six homers in 38 games at first and .248/.321/.430 with eight homers in 38 games as the designated hitter.

Reynolds and Manny Machado have tightened the defense at the infield corners, just as Nate McLouth has done in left field. Davis offers the ability to play first and third and move to the outfield, but I’m perfectly fine with him as DH. I’m sure he’d offer a different opinion.

Meanwhile, according to Elias, Jim Johnson has a major league-leading 15 “quality saves,” defined as one in which the pitcher enters with the tying run in scoring position or protects a one-run lead for at least one inning. The second-place closer, Pittsburgh’s Joel Hanrahan, has 13 quality saves, while MLB saves leader Fernando Rodney has only eight.

Johnson notched his 36th save last night, tying him with B.J. Ryan (2005), Jorge Julio (2003) and Gregg Olson (1992) for the third-highest season total in team history.

The Orioles are 23-6 in one-run games and have won 12 in a row to tie the franchise record.

Be sure to wish J.J. Hardy a happy 30th birthday.

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