Chris Davis: 2015 Rebound Series

Aug 8, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) hits a solo home run in the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles won 12-2. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles has found himself in the news recently after being approved to take Adderall next season to treat his ADHD.  Davis was suspended 25 games for taking Adderall without the league’s approval this year.  He has only one game remaining on that suspension, so it will not affect his fantasy availability in 2015 outside of Opening Day.

Why Chris Davis will rebound:

In 2014, he hit four points below the Mendoza line and hit just under half of his 2013 gaudy home run total.  That being said, Davis still managed to bash 26 bombs in 127 games this season.  Chris Davis has tremendous power, which can be evidenced by the fact that he has 112 homers in the past three seasons and that nearly 30% of his hits in 2014 went over the fence.

Furthermore, Chris Davis has always maintained a very high line drive rate that has led to a career .320 BABIP.  Davis has a career line drive rate of 23.1% and his 2014 rate was 24.6%.  As impressive as that figure is, he still only managed a .196/.300/.404 slash line that was largely driven by a .242 BABIP and the fact that he struck out in one-third of his at-bats.

While it seems like Davis suffered from an extreme case of bad luck, there is an underlying reason why his BABIP was so dreadfully low.  That point will be discussed in the “Why Chris Davis may fail” section of the article.

There is a one in a million chance that Chris Davis repeats his incredible 2013 season, but his 2015 expectations could be purchased at a reasonable rate.  A full season of Davis could easily see him hit 30-40 homers at a cozy Camden Yards in a loaded lineup even without Nelson Cruz.  There is no doubt that he can give you strong numbers in runs, homers, and RBI’s as well as his approved prescription to take Adderall should keep him from getting suspended again.

Why Chris Davis may fail:

Defensive shifting killed Chris Davis this season.  Even though he can slaughter the baseball and hit a boatload of line drives, Davis is a heavy pull hitter.  The increased prevalence of defensive shifting has seen Davis hit the ball way too many times into the gloves of well-positioned fielders.  The effect of shifting is the most noticeable with left-handed batters that pull the ball, such as Chris Davis, Ryan Howard, and the recently retired Adam Dunn.

I have to believe that he will not have a .196 average again or have a .242 BABIP, but there is no way that Davis will approach his .286 batting average from 2013.  The effect of shifting makes it hard for me to believe that Davis will even find a BABIP north of .300 in 2015.

Shifting will prevent Chris Davis from having a respectable batting average, but that does mean he does not still offer value in other categories.  You should be aware that his slash line will look much closer to .250/.325/.500 than it did in his banner year, but that does not mean you should avoid Davis come draft day.  He offers premium power even if a lot of his at-bats will end in strikeouts and in the gloves of well-aligned fielders.