Defense dogs Davis
By Nathan Petrashek
OF Khris Davis is making all kinds of noise with his bat in Brewers’ camp this year. After a 2-for-3 day, Davis is now slashing .300/.333/.650 this spring. That slugging percentage might seem ridiculous, but his power is real. As he moved up through three levels of the minors last year, Davis slugged .604 with a ratio of about 17 at-bats per home run. Today, Davis crushed a two-run tater to left, his second of the spring.
Unfortunately, Davis isn’t making any noise at all with his glove. Entering the lineup as DH, he didn’t even need to bring it to the park today. For an outfielder, Davis doesn’t have a good arm, and Ron Roneicke has all but said he won’t play Davis in right field. Unfortunately, a premium defensive position like center field isn’t a good option either. That leaves left field, where Davis is blocked by Ryan Braun. You see the dilemma.
At first blush, the injuries to Corey Hart and Mat Gamel seemed like a great opportunity for Davis. Sure, he’d have to learn first base, but it isn’t like he’d have to become a pitcher or backstop. It’s definitely do-able. Corey Hart did it just last year.
Apparently that won’t be happening, though. From various reports, it sounds like Davis had tried first base a few times earlier in his pro career and it didn’t go well. I’ve also heard the Brewers had him doing a little work there earlier in camp and came away unimpressed.
That doesn’t change the fact that, for the first month or two, the Brewers are going to need someone to play first base. It doesn’t look like they’ll be signing anyone, so it’s strictly internal candidates at this point. And with the kind of pop Khris Davis has, he should be the leading candidate. But he’s not. And I find that really puzzling. Is Davis’s glove going to be a bigger liability than, say, Alex Gonzalez’s bat? Or Taylor Green’s, for that matter? I have a hard time believing so.
Davis is 25 and entering his prime. Unless he changes positions, he’s simply not going to get a shot with Ryan Braun in the way. Sink or swim, it’s time to see what the kid can do.