“Patience is a virtue” is an old cliché in today’s fast-paced, instant gratification-based society.
The Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Davis, however, is teaching his former team a lesson in rushing to judgment.
Davis, 27, was once a power-hitting prospect in the Texas Rangers system. He strutted onto the MLB scene in 2008 straight
-flexing, hitting 17 homers and sporting an .880 OPS in half a season.
Davis was a hot fantasy league pick entering the '09 season, but like many prolific sluggers, he couldn’t shake the K-bug.
His playing time decreased, the hype diminished and an offensively stacked Rangers team traded the first baseman to B-More along with pitcher Tommy Hunter for reliever Koji Ueara in 2011.
But that was then, and this is now.
Surf the net for MLB early-season statistical leaders and you'll witness the re-emergence of "Crash Davis"– the nickname given to Davis when he first came to The Bigs – referencing Kevin Costner’s character in the classic baseball movie, Bull Durham.
Davis became the fourth player in major league history to homer in his first four games of the season, joining Willie Mays, Mark McGwire and Nelson Cruz. After six games this season he is sixth in batting with a sizzling .455 average and first in dingers and RBIs (17).
He’s putting up Ruthian numbers. So what gives?
“I don’t feel like I have anything magical,” Davis told the NY Times. “I feel comfortable, and I feel like I’m being patient. I’m taking what they give me.”
It’s not magic. It’s more like witch craft. A man possessed.
Baseball is weird like that. Sometimes a player needs a change of scenery to get the performance
-juices flowing. A new coach can do the trick too. Unlike Rangers’ skipper Ron Washington, who had a roster full of bashers, Orioles manager Buck Showalter needed Davis to compete with the bop-heavy Yankees.
Proving, he could still mash, Davis played a major role in helping Baltimore break a 15-year playoff
-drought in 2012. He smacked 33 homers and drove in 85 runs, with an OPS better than .800 for the first time since his auspicious debut.
Nice numbers, but hardly the torrid zone he’s in now. Entering this season, the baseball community still recognized Davis as a boom-or-bust guy, despite a solid .270 batting average last season.
Who could blame them?
Davis has already struck out 512 times in just 441career games, including 150 in 2009 and 169 times last season.
This season, he’s evolving as a batsman. According to fangraphs.com, Davis – a notorious air catcher – is hitting everything thrown his way and after whiffing 30 percent of the time last season, has just three strikeouts in 22 at bats.
Maybe Showalter is not only a master technician, but also a master motivator. It seems he was able to hit a switch that the Rangers couldn’t reach. Could be, Davis just needed someone to believe in his potential. Or maybe it was simply a matter of time. Not everyone can be instantly
-awesome like Mike Trout. Not even Bryce Harper. Baseball players usually develop more like fine wines than sports cars. Davis is finally grasping the nuances of the game necessary for consistent success.
He’s going to hit 445-foot bombs. He’s going to whiff. He’s also being allowed to develop and make mistakes without looking over his shoulder. The result of his peace of mind is making MLB pitching a piece of cake for Crash Davis.