He was a universally unknown prospect-turned-starting-outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, and the 2013 season couldn’t have gone better for Khris Davis. And his progress continued when the Brewers shipped Norichika Aoki off to Kansas City after Ryan Braun agreed to switch from left to right field, officially opening the door for Davis.
Davis surprisingly made the Opening Day roster after hitting a team-high six home runs in spring training, but he made only 18 plate appearances (three hits) before being sent down to the minors on May 2. When someone like Braun is ahead of you in the depth chart it’s tough to see playing time, especially when your abilities limit you to one defensive position.
Luckily for Davis, Braun was involved in some sort of controversy and was suspended by Major League Baseball on July 22. And furthering Davis’ good fortune, reserve outfielder Logan Schafer wasn’t getting the job done and the Brewers called upon Davis once again – this time with guaranteed playing time.
Once he saw consistent at-bats, the Davis from Maryvale re-emerged.
In 153 plate appearances, the former 2009 7th round draft pick hit .279 with 11 home runs. His isolated power (ISO) of .316 was second in the majors, trailing only the other Chris Davis.
But, despite this breakthrough, his season remained confusing.
Aside from a power standpoint, Davis was astronomically more successful across the board against right-handers, which is surprising for a someone who hits from the right side of the plate. Versus right-handed pitchers, Davis posted a .297 average (.328 BABIP), but versus left-handed pitchers, he hit just .244 (.200 BABIP). He also walked more and struck out less against righties.
On the flip side, his power splits were as expected. Davis hit for considerable more power against southpaws (.444 ISO) than he did against righties (.253).
His power, coupled with the evidence he could handle right-handed pitching, boosted Milwaukee’s belief in him.
Will his dominance against right-handed pitchers continue in 2014? Probably not, but his success rate against lefties should undoubtedly increase.
With Davis, Braun and Carlos Gomez, the Brewers should have one of the most powerful outfields in baseball next season. The aforementioned trio is capable of hitting 75+ home runs if they can stay away from the disabled list and MLB’s cross hairs.
Only time will tell if Davis is the long-term option in left field for Milwaukee, but for now, all signs point to it.