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The Baffling Khris Davis

The days of a struggling Khris Davis have given way to the Khrush Davis that fans became acquainted with last season. In the last two weeks (11 games), Davis is slugging .786. More recently, over the last week (6 games), Davis is slashing a ridiculous .478/.556/1.174. Davis appears to have suppressed the Davis of March/April, who posted a .683 OPS in favor of a home run champ. Davis hit one home run each day in the Orioles series, including a 4 for 4 appearance in the series opener.

There is no denying that Davis is playing exceptionally well, but there is still cause for concern. Davis has absolutely teed off on left-handed pitchers this year, slugging .780 against southpaws so far. This is in part thanks to an absurd- and lucky- .500 BABIP, meaning that exactly half of the balls that Davis puts in play against lefties end up as hits.

Over the course of a year, the average BABIP is closer to .290-.300 for the average player, and a regression should be expected. This seems obvious, given that few can expect Davis to continue hitting .380 against lefties all year, but other patterns are more concerning. While it could be in part because Davis knows he is hitting lefties so well, it should be noted that he has not drawn a single walk against a left-handed pitcher to this point in 2014, though he has been hit by one pitch.

Likewise concerning is Davis’ early performance against his fellow righties, as he is slashing a paltry .203/.257/.376 in these instances.  These numbers would be expected from a platoon player, but the Davis of 2013 got the Brewers hoping for a new star in left field. It should be mentioned that Davis has likely faced hard luck against righties, as he currently has a .235 BABIP against them, and his stats may even out, but most of his hard hit balls have been off of lefties.

This is not to say that players typically have even splits across the board. Most players post better numbers against pitchers of their opposite handedness. The concern is that Davis’ walk rates will remain low, and his outrageous success against lefties will slowly regress.

If that should happen, Davis will need to prove he can slug against righties the way we have seen against southpaws. Any Brewers fan can attest to Davis’ impressive raw power, but there is still progress to be made before Davis is a clear-cut, everyday starter.

Tags: Khris Davis Milwaukee Brewers