Domenic Vadala: Instead of suspicion, Davis deserves benefit of doubt

There were a few things that were said last week that kind of bugged me. Chris Davis hit home runs last Sunday against Boston, and then again Monday and Wednesday (twice) at Detroit, and in Toronto on Friday. He currently leads the majors with 27 homers. But many fans, and even some people who follow the Orioles, don’t want to let a certain matter rest. Whenever a big league slugger breaks out, the PED argument always seems to come up. On June 16, someone tweeted, “I would love to see Chris Davis get busted for steroids.” One day prior, someone else tweeted, “Check Chris Davis for steroids.”

Note that I didn’t provide links to the tweets or give out the tweeters’ handles; their opinions are their own. However, we’ve all heard parts of this discussion. Is it fair to question some of Davis’ numbers? I suppose that given the current state of things in baseball and its history with regard to PEDs, it probably is. However, that first tweet kind of troubles me a bit; it appears that people want Davis to be taking steroids so they can see him get busted. Why? Most fans have seen their teams beat up on the Orioles for years; are they really that bitter at the fact that the O’s now have a guy in their lineup that strikes the fear of God into their teams?

I suspect that fans of Boston and New York still view the Orioles as a nuisance, thus they probably would love to see Davis busted. But people were authoritatively and vehemently stating that Davis was juicing last week. I heard that Davis has been tested on numerous occasions this season; in the absence of a positive steroid test (or an admission of guilt), there really isn’t much to see here. Plainly put, the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is a pillar of our society and our criminal justice system.

Ultimately, people are going to have their opinions one way or the other. In the minds of many outside of Baltimore, Davis is guilty by simple virtue of the fact that his home run total year over year is on pace to be so much higher. However, there are also a few other things to consider. In 2012, Davis averaged exactly one hit per game with 139 hits in 139 games. He also smacked 20 doubles in 2012, and had 85 RBIs. Going into play Friday, Davis had 89 hits, 23 doubles and 66 RBIs. PEDs might not necessarily affect those statistics, yet they’re anticipated to be higher year over year. Davis also walked 37 times in 2012, as opposed to 32 already in 2013 going into play Friday. There’s one area that PEDs absolutely won’t affect, as walking is all about seeing the ball.

For all I know, Davis might well be doing something illegal in attaining his numbers. And if that’s the case, then all of the people who are arrogantly calling him out will end up being vindicated. Incidentally, Davis is also fielding at a .997 clip at first base as opposed to only .958 in 2012 (for only 26 games). I suppose that my point is that Davis is merely coming into his own as a player.

Unfortunately, we now live in a time whereby any player that starts hitting in such a torrid manner is going to get questioned. But the fact is that Davis hasn’t changed his size or buid significantly in the last year, nor has he shown other affects of PED use. Can we not give the guy the benefit of the doubt?

While this may come off as sounding like a weak point, it’s also worth mentioning that usually where there’s smoke there’s fire. Most of the guys who have been caught using PEDs were guys about whom we had heard rumors (some for quite some time). Even the Orioles’ own Rafael Palmeiro’s name had been mentioned in the past, prior to his suspension. This in no way, shape or form means that Davis is clean. It just means we haven’t heard rumors about him. However, what should give people pause is the fact that many of his other numbers are looking to go up as well.

Is it not possible or even probable that he’s just progressing as a big league hitter by working hard?

Domenic Vadala blogs about the Orioles at Birds Watcher, and his opinions appear here as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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