1. Chris Davis will bounce back with a 40 home run season.
Even during his abysmal 2014 season, Chris Davis still managed to hit 26 home runs. Yes, it was a marked decline from the monstrous 2013 season in which he hit 53 home runs and led the league in RBI, total bases and AB/HR. Something was up with Davis last year, and we may never know what it was. Maybe it was the lack of Adderall. Maybe it was a nagging injury. Perhaps it was just a complete loss of confidence at the plate.
Whatever the case may be, Davis was not himself last year. He looked lost at the plate. For a power hitter like Davis, one would expect a precipitous drop in batting average from .286 to .196 to be the product of a rash of strikeouts, but it was not. Davis strikes out a lot in a good year or a bad year, and there was no spike in strikeouts when comparing his 2013 and 2014 seasons. The most glaring number is Davis’ BAbip.
Davis has a career .320 BAbip, in line with what you would expect from a Major League hitter. His BAbip last year was a paltry .242. That will not continue this season. Davis is due for a huge regression to the mean, as evidenced by his BAbip. It is highly uncommon for hitters to suffer two consecutive seasons of such bad luck. The shift will steal a few hits from Davis, but that alone cannot explain the low BAbip.
For a fly ball power hitter like Davis, low BAbip cannot be fully explained away as bad luck. Fly balls that are not leaving the yard or falling for doubles tell me that a hitter is not making the same solid contact. BAbip explains a singles hitter seeing his average rise from .275 to .333 in a single season, but it does not explain why Davis would see his slugging percentage drop from .634 to .404. In a past post, I broke down a striking difference in Davis’ approach at the plate between 2013 and 2014. I will spare you all of the details, but my analysis boiled down to the fact that Davis was not being aggressive at the plate in 2014. He needs to right that flaw in his game in 2015. If he does that, I see no reason why he cannot approach the production of his 2013 campaign.
To expect Davis to hit 53 home runs again is asking too much. I believe 40 is reasonable if he is able to correct the flaws that developed in 2014. Both the player and the team need a bounce back season, and I am confident Davis will deliver the goods in 2015.