Davis comes up big, but has issues to fix

With super-nasty lefty Chris Sale on the mound for the Chicago White Sox on Monday night, Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter decided to bench slumping slugger Chris Davis.

Chris Davis

Chris Davis

#19 1B
Baltimore Orioles

2014 STATS

  • GM60
  • HR13

  • RBI40

  • R34

  • OBP.329

  • AVG.219

But Davis made for a heck of a bench weapon late in the game.

The Orioles won their third straight game since a brutal walk-off loss against the New York Yankees, beating the White Sox on Davis’ walk-off home run.

It was his second career walk-off homer, his first since the 2009 season when he hit one against the Seattle Mariners. The Orioles won on a pinch-hit walk-off home run for the first time since the 1988 season when Larry Sheets hit one against the Mariners.

Inside the At-Bat

Davis was 4 for 36 in his previous nine games, including 2 for 23 against right-handed pitching, but he crushed a 3-2 87-mph cutter from reliever Ronald Belisario for the winning home run.

Belisario had the advantage on a couple of fronts. Or perhaps Davis was due.

Davis was 1 for his last 21 in two-strike situations against right-handed pitching prior to Monday. And he hadn’t homered against a cutter from a right-handed pitcher since hitting one against Luke Hochevar of the Kansas City Royals more than three years ago- May 19, 2011.

Davis’ weakness

The big difference for Davis has been in trying to hit right-handed pitching.

Davis vs. right-handed pitching

The chart on the right compares his performance against righties from last season to this season.

Belisario’s optimum choice for that situation might have been an offspeed pitch. Davis has seen 230 offspeed pitches from righties this season and has only four extra-base hits.

He had 34 in 2013.

Looking ahead: Potential adjustment

Davis, who missed time earlier this season with a strained oblique, is still hitting the ball hard when he hits it in the air. But his long fly balls are often going to the deepest part of the ballpark. Last season, 36 percent of his fly balls were hit to center field. This season, that rate is 47 percent, and it’s come at the expense of driving the ball to the opposite field.

Davis had 14 opposite-field homers last season. He has only two in 2014.

Did You Know?

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Davis joined Jim Thome and Mickey Mantle as the only players in the last 50 years to hit a pinch-hit walk-off home after previously hitting 50 home runs in a season in their career.