Khris Davis starts the 2014 as the new full-time left fielder for the Brewers. However, his numbers dropped in the latter part of last season and Davis must improve his consistency in order to be productive. Davis batted .319 with six home runs in August, falling to just .237 with two homers in September.
By acquiring Mark Reynolds, the Brewers still haven’t dealt with the issue of OBP at first base. Juan Francisco and Reynolds are both likely to strike out regularly – expect 200+ by the end of September. The Brewers were last among first baseman with a woeful OBP of .259 in 2013 and although I expect Reynolds and Francisco to improve this, it will still be a liability this season.
As a result, it will be vital for Davis to show his July/August form throughout the bulk of the upcoming season. The Brewers cannot afford to carry a strikeout heavy lineup, as Davis struck out on 27.9% of his plate appearances in September and a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. In order to succeed in 2014, the Brewers will need runners on base for those times that Reynolds and Francisco connect and it is likely that Davis will bat in front of the first basemen.
Davis has shown in 2013 that he is a below average fielder. His UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of -3.1 shows weakness. However, if we compare him to Ryan Braun first season in left field, his UZR was -13.8, which is awful. Yet by 2012, Braun’s UZR had peaked at 4.7, which is well above average for major league outfielders. I’m sure the Brewers will make sure that Braun will help Davis achieve a similar transition during the next couple of seasons.
Davis will bring power to the lineup and projects to hit close to 30 home runs in 2014. It should mean a devastating outfield combination of Braun, Davis and Carlos Gomez. In order for the Brewers to compete in a tough National League Central Division in 2014, they will rely on Davis to get on base and provide RBI opportunities to those below him the lineup. I would expect Davis to improve his fielding, but the most important feature of his game will be to improve on his end of season batting slump, that was disguised by the brilliance of Aramis Ramirez and Scooter Gennett in September.