By Nathan Petrashek
As Doug Melvin and Mark Attanasio are fond of pointing out, you wouldn’t have found Khris Davis on many top prospect lists before the start of the 2012 season. His defensive abilities are totally questionable; the team didn’t even have enough confidence in him to stick him at first base after the position became a black hole last year. Beyond that, Davis had some trouble offensively when he was elevated to AA for the first time in 2011, hitting a light .210/.272/.331, albeit in a small sample.
The offensive question marks were largely erased in 2012, as Davis crushed to a .350/.451/.604 triple slash between three levels (including AAA Nashville in the PCL). While his lack of a glove and poor arm relegated him to left field, his hitting credentials earned him a shot in Milwaukee in 2013. He started as primarily a bench bat and struggled mightily (.188/.278/.313) before being sent down May 1.
Davis got a second chance when Ryan Braun was suspended in July and absolutely mashed. Taking over left fiend with regular playing time, Davis hit .292/.363/.633 with an amazing 11 home runs in 135 plate attempts. That was good for a .316 ISO, second only to Baltimore Orioles’ slugger Chris Davis in the major leagues. That average isn’t going to stick given Davis’s free-swinging ways. Expect some regression, but also note that his BABIP wasn’t unreasonably high at .293. Davis feasted on fastballs last year, but struggled mightily against sliders, so expect him to see a heavy dose of breaking balls in 2014. The power is there; it’s just a question of whether Davis will make enough contact to utilize it.
Defensively, Davis remains a bit of a liability, although his glaring range deficiencies are largely hidden in left field. His arm is nowhere near as strong as you’d like, although Ron Roenicke maintains he’s improved this spring. If Davis can make steady contact and scale back on the strikeouts slightly, his bat should more than make up for his poor glove and arm.
153 pa, 27 r, 11 hr, 27 rbi, 3 sb, 7.2 bb%, 22.2 k%, .279/.353/.596, 160 wRC+
Steamer: 480 pa, 56 r, 19 hr, 60 rbi, 9 sb, 8.6 bb%, 21.4 k%, .252/.326/.444, 112 wRC+
ZiPS: 457 pa, 57 r, 19 hr, 65 rbi, 7 sb, 9.2 bb%, 26 k%, .249/.330/.450, 115 wRC+
Signed to a one-year deal near league minimum; service time .104