Chris Davis did everything this year. He hit brilliantly, fielded so well that he could be a candidate for the Gold Glove, and his bobblehead giveaway inspired long lines on the last day of the season.
Of course, he was voted the Most Valuable Oriole, and could have been a unanimous choice. One media member voted for Adam Jones.
He’s still two years away from free agency, but Davis all but invited Dan Duquette to engage with his agent, Scott Boras, on talks for an extension.
It would be a popular move around here.
A week ago, Duquette, the Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations, said that he would talk with Boras, who represents Davis and Matt Wieters on an extension.
Boras is known as an agent who doesn’t like to leave money on the table, but his client stated a desire to stay with the Orioles.
“With the last couple years, this has been a place I’ve really been able to call home. The fans have been awesome. Jill and I, every time we go out, we see somebody (out) there and they are very complimentary. They’re just good people. And there’s a lot to be said for that. I know it was tough to be a fan here for a long time and I hope the last couple of years have really restored the faith of the fan base and given them something to cheer about. I couldn’t think of a better place for me to hit for the rest of my career,” Davis said.
“I always tell the story when I was younger and it was right before I got drafted and for whatever reason I always loved orange and black. I grew up in Dallas, just outside of Dallas, and I was a huge Cowboys fan, Rangers fan, Stars, Mavericks, whatever. And nobody wears orange and black. But I’ve always loved orange and black. I always pictured myself, not necessarily in an Orioles’ uniform, but wearing orange and black. And obviously I got traded over here and now it’s become like my first and second favorite colors. It’s one of those things that I guess it was foreshadowing in my mind before it even happened. This place has just been, I’ve had so many good memories in two years, you know I’d love to extend that for a number of years.”
If Davis signs an extension over the winter, it will be a popular move. In May 2012, Jones signed a five-year extension. If the two most popular Orioles are locked up, that will be great news for Orioles fans.
Look at how far Davis has come.
After he was traded from Texas along with Tommy Hunter for Koji Uehara in July 2011, Davis had just two home runs in 31 games for the Orioles. He played more games at third (17) than at first, and committed five errors in those games.
Who could have imagined 53 home runs two years later?
Last year, Davis played more games in the outfield than at first. He filled in decently in right field after Nick Markakis was injured. Davis played first base just once after May 28.
In 2013, the Orioles decided to commit to Davis. Mark Reynolds wasn’t re-signed, and by the middle of March, Davis’ fielding at first base, which had been uninspired, had become a non-story.
Davis committed four errors in 38 games at first in 2012. This year, he made just six in 155 games.
Yes, there were seven games Davis didn’t play at first. One of his great accomplishments is making it hard to picture anyone else playing first base for the team. (For the record, Steve Pearce, Ryan Flaherty and Travis Ishikawa started the other seven games there. Davis was DH five times and sat out twice.)
Before this year, Davis was known as the guy who struck out a lot, hit some long home runs and won the fabled game at Fenway Park in May 2012 with his knuckleball.
Now, he’s the only player in major league history to hit exactly 53 home runs in a season, a quirky stat for sure. That number has been exceeded just 25 times in major league history.
Besides leading the league in home runs, he also led with 138 RBIs and batted .286. In a year, Davis nearly doubled his walk total to 72, and his on-base percentage zoomed from .326 to .370.
Now come the unrealistic expectations. Just five times in Orioles history has a player had 40 home runs in a season. None has done it twice.
Davis’ 2013 season was a joy. Orioles fans should treat it as something special because it’s not likely to ever be equaled—at least by him.