Is Chris Davis Worth Owning In 2010?

Fantasy owners have been waiting for Chris Davis to put things together and emerge as a source of home runs for a few years now.  The problem, however, has been his inability to consistently make contact.  Without a usable average, the Rangers have not continued to utilize him, leaving him either in the minor leagues or in a platoon situation.

The 2009 season was much of the same, as you can see by his line:

391 At Bats
.238 Batting Average (93 Hits)
21 Home Runs
59 RBI
48 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.284 On Base Percentage
.442 Slugging Percentage
.327 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The power is unquestioned, but a 38.4% strikeout rate made it impossible for him to hit for a decent average, even with a solid BABIP.  That strikeout total is a little bit inflated, you would think.  Between 2008 & 2009 he had 276 AB at Triple-A, striking out 68 times.  That is still a strikeout rate of 24.6%, which, while high, is much more palatable.

He did show a much better rate in September, posting a 28% mark, so there is reason for hope.  With more experience you can expect the strikeout rate to drop a bit, though it’s not going to be an elite number by any stretch.  Even if it dips under 30%, the best-case scenario could be an average in the .260-.270, unless he gets extremely lucky.

The fact that he draws very few walks also has to be a concern.  He was significantly better in Triple-A, posting a 12.1% rate, so there is hope there as well.  Last season he walked just 5.8% of the time, so an improvement there will likely lead to more runs scored.

The Rangers have recently said that Davis will likely hit sixth early on, with Nelson Cruz hitting behind him.  If that holds true, that means he’s going to have more opportunities to score runs than the majority of sixth place hitters, though his inability to consistently get on base will offset that just a bit.  Don’t look for him to be an elite run scoring option by any means.

Let’s take a look at what I’d expect from him this season:

.267 (120-450), 26 HR, 70 RBI, 75 R, 1 SB, .320 BABIP, .323 OBP, .507 SLG

The strikeout rate (the projection is based on a rate of 28.89% and his inability to get on base will certainly give the Rangers reason to consider Justin Smoak (who Jimmy looked at back in June, click here to view, but we’ll be profiling again soon), the Rangers top offensive prospect.  With Vladimir Guerrero in place as the DH, the only spot for Smoak to get his chance will be at first base.  He likely needs some more time at Triple-A (he hit .244 with 4 HR there in 197 AB last season), but sooner or later his time will come.

With all the concerns we have, does it make sense to draft Davis in the 12th round (his current ADP is around 143)?  I don’t think so.  Basically, while the allure of Davis’ power is intriguing, he’s a huge risk due to playing time and average concerns.  I would only consider him in the late rounds of my draft as a bench option (or a corner infield option) and nothing more.  That means, with where I’d need to take him in my draft, it’s unlikely that I’ll have him on any of my teams (not because he doesn’t have the potential).

What about you?  Is Davis someone you are looking to draft?  Do you think he’s going to start all year or is he more of a bench option for fantasy owners?

Make sure to place your order for the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here.

Make sure to check out some more of our 2010 projections, including:

3 comments

  1. I’m with you. If he slides, I’ll take him. If not, I’ll let someone else deal with the whiffs.

  2. Aaron says:

    I am not sure he is even draft-able. I could definitely see your projections coming to fruition, but with that much risk I will probably opt for someone with higher upside, depending on who is left.

  3. David says:

    I stumbled on your site and have been enjoying reading your summaries, but I have to say your opening here is pretty off. Waiting for a few years? A few years ago he was in single A, hes 23 years old for a couple more weeks. And his 2008 fantasy production was quite good while he was up.

    And aaron, higher upside? Davis is all upside, he has 40+ HR power and hit at an over 30 rate in an absolute disaster 2/3 of a season last year.

    Of course, you are all correct in the huge strikeout/low average/low obp risks. Hes a huge risk. But hes a young guy with huge upside.

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