Fantasy Baseball 2018: Avoid Chris Davis on draft day

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis doesn’t look like the same hitter he was just a couple of years ago. You should look elsewhere for a first baseman.

The Baltimore Orioles are in a state of flux as they need help in many areas. While they still have some fantasy stars (Manny Machado, Adam Jones), there are other players you should steer away from on draft day. One of them being their first baseman Chris Davis.

 

In 128 games last season, Davis his 26 home runs and 61 RBI. He also struck out 195 times and walked just 61 times. While he didn’t strike out over 200 times like he did in the two seasons prior, he walked 27 fewer times, affecting his .309 on-base percentage.

Davis saw his ground ball rate rise five percent from 2015 to 2016 and maintained it in 2017. His fly ball rate also dropped four percent between 2016 and 2017. Based on his games played, Davis’ strikeout rate went up almost five percent.

Yet, Davis is swinging at fewer pitches, 50.2 percent in 2013 down to 42.8 percent last season. Even with fewer swings, pitchers were still getting ahead in counts 61.6 percent of the time.

Though, his HR/FB rate stayed roughly the same and his hard-hit rate went up one percent. Then again, those numbers would likely regress if he didn’t miss time last season. Power was up across the league but Davis’ was declining.

Davis burst onto the scene in 2012 with the Orioles after a part-time player for the Texas Rangers. He hit 33 home runs and .270 in 139 games. The following year skyrocketed his fantasy value. That was the 53 HR/138 RBI/.286 season. Davis played in 160 games, a career-high at the time.

He hit 47 home runs two years later, but the batting average took a hit. And continued to drop over the next two seasons. Davis hit .221 and .215 respectively. Last year was an especially bad season for the 31-year-old.

Davis had an 82.7 ADP, ninth-round pick in standard ESPN leagues. He finished as the No. 48 first baseman on ESPN’s Player Rater. He was clearly one of the most disappointing players for fantasy owners last season.

FantasyPros has Davis as a 14th round pick while ESPN’s Tristan H. Cockcroft lists him as a 15th round pick. I would have him a little lower than that. At this point in the draft, you would already have your starting first baseman and are just looking for a backup. There are other players with similar or better overall stats.

With the decline in power and increase in strikeout rate, Davis should be avoided in most fantasy leagues. He is like a Chris Carter type hitter. He can get back up to 30-40 home runs but will strike out 200 times and post a .220 batting average. There are some situations where that kind of player could help but I’d rather target a similar power hitter that could also help in batting average.