Orioles manager Buck Showalter sat Mark Trumbo for last night’s game against the Rays and gave Chris Davis another start at first base. He’s tried rest and repetition, but nothing has worked to ignite the two sluggers.
Time is fast running out.
Trumbo is 12-for-64 (.188) this month, including a current 0-for-16 stretch with seven strikeouts that’s dropped his season average to .235. His .290 on-base percentage would be the lowest of his career, a hair worse than the .291 he posted with the Angels in 2011. However, he batted .254 that season with 31 doubles, 29 home runs and 87 RBIs.
Going into last night’s game, Trumbo was stuck on 22 doubles, 23 home runs and 65 RBIs. The harsher comparison, of course, comes when the numbers are stacked alongside his 2016 totals, a year in which he led the majors with 47 home runs, drove in 108 runs and earned a three-year, $37.5 million contract in free agency.
His .533 slugging percentage last season dwarfs this year’s .400, taking the former All-Star from the best to worst of his career.
Davis was 9-for-65 in 19 September games before hitting his 25th home run last night and poking an opposite-field single into left field for his first multi-hit game since Aug. 31. His .138 average would have been the lowest for a single month in his career, but he bumped it up to .161.
Davis was hitting .215/.308/.420 in 121 games before last night and he struck out 183 times in 433 at-bats.
A 92 mph fastball from Alex Cobb disappeared into the night. Davis, who earlier drew a 10-pitch walk, would like the same result from another prolonged slump.
Showalter eventually reached the point where he couldn’t keep Trumbo and Davis in the middle of the order, lowering them to sixth and seventh. He noted how Trumbo defused any potential controversy by pointing out that others were more deserving of prime real estate in the lineup.
In the meantime, the Orioles have been losing ground in the wild card chase as Showalter tries to squeeze more run production from a team that went 26 consecutive innings without scoring.
“It’s a challenge,” Showalter said. “Believe me, it grates on them and they don’t take it nonchalantly. I see all the work they do and the way they wear it mentally and emotionally. It’s very frustrating for them. And once again, we know how good they are and you keep giving them every opportunity to get back to that, and there’s been flashes of it.”
Trumbo has four walk-off hits this season, including a home run on opening day, and he ranks third on the club with 21 RBIs in the seventh inning or later. Showalter, in familiar fashion, will pull from the positive as much as he can.
“Chris has gotten on base a lot,” he said. “Mark, for a couple months, was doing things very much like last year, and it’ll happen again.”
Working our way backward toward his early tenure with the Rangers, here are Davis’ lowest averages for each season:
September 2017: .161 (11-for-68), two home runs, 29 strikeouts
July 2016: .153 (13-for-85), three home runs, 37 strikeouts
May 2015: .196 (19-for-97), seven home runs 40 strikeouts
August 2014: .161 (15-for-93) seven home runs, 35 strikeouts
July 2013: .211 (19-for-90), seven home runs, 41 strikeouts
June 2012: .205 (16-for-78), four home runs, 22 strikeouts
April 2011: .154 (2-for-13)
April 2010: .188 (9-for-48)
July 2009: .182 (2-for-11)
August 2008: .228 (23-for-101), four home runs, 34 strikeouts
Davis spent only three months in the majors in 2010. He received many more at-bats in May 2009 than July and posted a .189 average (18-for-95) with seven home runs and 43 strikeouts.
Though Davis was under .200 in May 2015, he batted .318 (34-for-107) with 12 home runs in September.
The 2014 season also saw him post averages of .167 in July and .175 in June.
Davis cooled in July 2013 after batting .348 in April and .364 in May. He also cooled in June 2012 after batting .310 in April and .309 in May, and he posted a .320 average in September.
His April 2011 average came in a small sample size. He batted .301 (25-for-83) in September.
Shameless plug alert: Without a road trip this weekend, I’m back on “Wall to Wall Baseball” today from noon-2 p.m on MASN.