After trying season and suspension, Chris Davis’ popularity with the fans has taken a hit

Some Orioles fans are not happy with Chris Davis. Not only did his batting average drop to .196 this season, but he ended the year serving a 25-game suspension for taking Adderall.

Davis let down his organization, teammates and Orioles fans. One year after leading the majors with 53 homers, he ended this season on the restricted list and was not available to the Orioles down the stretch and for two playoff series.

What a difference a year makes. This time last year, we were pondering whether the Orioles could sign Davis to a long-term contract. With Scott Boras as his agent, some felt Davis would command at least $20 million a year coming off his big season - and he might command a long-term deal of significantly more than $100 million.

davis-happy-in-dugout-sidebar.jpgNow, after a season with such a low batting average that ended with such disappointment, some fans don’t want Davis back next year.

The Orioles could cut ties with Davis if they choose to. He made $10.35 million for the 2014 season and MLBTradeRumors.com last night projected that he would earn $11.8 million next season through arbitration.

The Orioles could walk away from that by non-tendering Davis, which would make him a free agent. But would they let him go after he has hit 112 homers with 295 RBIs over the last three years?

In 2013, Davis led the majors in homers, RBIs and extra-base hits. He had nine more homers and 21 more extra-base hits than anyone else in the game. Davis became the third player in major league history to hit at least 50 home runs and 40 doubles in a season, joining Babe Ruth and Albert Belle.

He set O’s clubs records for homers and extra-base hits as he batted .286 with 42 doubles, 53 homers, 138 RBIs and a 1.004 OPS.

Davis batting .196 last year was a real surprise. He had batted .276, .270 and .286 in his three previous seasons. Maybe he won’t hit anywhere near 53 homers in 2015, but he’ll have a season more like 2012, when he batted .270 with 33 homers, 85 RBIs and had an .827 OPS.

If re-signed, does Davis have some damage repair to do, both inside and outside of the clubhouse?

He hasn’t done an interview since his Sept. 12 suspension, but issued this statement that day:

“I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Orioles organization and especially the fans. I made a mistake by taking Adderall. I had permission to use it in the past, but do not have a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) this year. I accept my punishment and will begin serving my suspension immediately.”

If Nelson Cruz and his 40 homers wind up playing elsewhere next year, does that make retaining Davis more important for the Orioles?

They don’t seem inclined to let him go right now and even with that price tag, it appears there is a good chance that Davis is back at first base next year.

Up until 2014, Davis has been considered a high-character team-first guy that was well liked in the clubhouse and seemed like a great fit with the Orioles.

Is that still true, or can it be again?

Stat of the day: A look at the American League team leaders in 2014 in pinch-hit batting average:

.313 - Orioles
.307 - White Sox
.247 - Yankees, Rangers
.238 - Angels

The AL average was .223.

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