The Orioles’ season ended on Sunday after a full 162 games, the tormenting weather forcing delays, postponements and doubleheaders but unable to leave them short.
The curtain on Chris Davis’ season closed on Sept. 22 after an 0-for-5 day at Yankee Stadium that included three more strikeouts. The last pitch he saw, from reliever Jonathan Holder in the 10th inning, was lined to first baseman Luke Voit, who made a lunging grab and saved two runs from scoring in a tie game.
How appropriate for a guy who remains perplexed and frustrated by the shift. Voit was in his usual spot, but anything pulled to the right side seems to be an out for Davis.
In his previous at-bat, Davis struck out against Dellin Betances to end the eighth inning. Also appropriate given Davis’ strikeout totals - 192 this summer - and the alarming rate that he takes pitches in the zone.
With four more years remaining on his $161 million contract, Davis is expected back at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in February. I haven’t been given any indication that the Orioles will release him or that he’s going to walk away from it. Check back with me later, but that’s the current climate.
The decision to sit Davis for the final week was mutual. He sat down in manager Buck Showalter’s office and they talked about it. There was nothing to gain by continuing to play with only seven hits in September, one in his last 39 at-bats with 20 strikeouts and none in his last 21 at-bats with 14 strikeouts.
Rob Deer (1991) and Dan Uggla (2013) shared the single-season record for lowest batting average among qualifiers at .179 until Davis came along and batted .168.
The Orioles are getting younger and chopping payroll, so what does Davis do in the midst of the teardown and rebuild?
“Reboot. I mean, start over,” Showalter said.
“Chris, we’ve had a number of conversations this year. I had one with him a day or two ago. He was talking about the first time other than the time we took some time off and tried to restart a little bit, how he sees some things. Without getting too deep or revealing some things we talked about.
“This last week or two or whatever it’s been - I think it’s been a week - might be real beneficial to him this offseason as he goes into it. But sometimes you go, ‘OK, is it this, is it that, is it where I’m holding my hands, is my bat too heavy, is my bat too light?’ Sometimes, that never gets corrected. But I know that Chris will do everything he possibly can to do that and give himself a chance.”
It might be a bold assumption following the criticism levied at Davis for not spending more days over the winter working with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. But Showalter or whomever is writing out the lineups next season has to believe it.
Davis has moved far beyond the point where it’s time to make adjustments and stick to them.
“He’s not happy,” Showalter continued. “Believe me. I think sometimes we think they’re just que sera sera and go home and this year never happened. That doesn’t happen with people, especially Chris. People say, ‘Boy, I’d love to have a job where we get paid X amount of money.’ Yeah, I’ve got it. But I think he’s able to really reflect on a lot of things now.
“Does he still have the talent and whatever, the skill set to do those things again? We’ll see, we’ll see. But it’s been a long period of tough times for him and those pulling for him.”
It’s a frightening thought, bone-chilling for fans when verbalized, that Davis may not possess the skill set to be any better than what we’re seeing since ownership gave him the richest contract in franchise history.
Question of the day: Jonathan Villar doubled twice Sunday and batted .258/.336/.392 in 54 games with the Orioles. He had four doubles, eighth home runs and 24 RBIs and was 21-for-24 in stolen base attempts. He played second base and shortstop. He posted a 1.3 WAR. He has a tendency to get picked off and run when he should stay.
Jonathan Schoop went into yesterday’s tie-breaker against the Cubs batting .208/.254/.342 with four doubles, four home runs, 21 RBIs and 41 strikeouts in 45 games and 130 plate appearances with the Brewers. He also posted a 1.3 WAR with the Orioles, and a 0.2 WAR with Milwaukee.
Villar is 27 and under team control through 2020. Schoop turns 27 later this month and is under team control through 2019.
Would you trade Villar for Schoop straight up or keep him?