Well, it’s official. Chris Davis has entered MLB history for all the wrong reasons.
The Baltimore Orioles first baseman broke an MLB record among non-pitchers with his 47th straight at-bat without a hit, eclipsing former Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Eugenio Velez’s streak of 46 in 2011.
Davis’ last chance to avoid the infamous milestone came Monday against the Oakland Athletics. Davis entered the game 0-for-23 with 13 strikeouts to start the season, which formed an 0-for-44 streak when combined with his 21 hitless at-bats to end the season last year.
Chris Davis’ latest, historic bad day at the plate
Facing A’s starter Marco Estrada, Davis actually got a decent amount of bat on the ball in his first plate appearance to lead off the second inning, hitting a line drive to right field that clocked in at 92.4 mph according to Statcast. Alas, it was hit straight toward right-fielder Stephen Piscotty.
Davis’ second at-bat ended in similar fashion, with a fly ball to left field that was easily caught. Davis had actually received a reprieve earlier in the at-bat when second-baseman Jurickson Profar dropped a fly ball in foul territory, but it still ended with an out and tied the record.
The final, record-breaking out was the most painful to watch, because it was Davis’ best chance at a hit of the day. Davis hit a 103.5 mph fly ball to deep left field that Statcast calculated to have a 58 percent chance of landing for a hit and at least let the 33-year-old avoid a new record.
Of course, baseball being the painful, difficult sport that it is, left-fielder Robbie Grossman got a good jump on the ball and gave Davis sole possession of the record. The Baltimore crowd, the smallest in the history of Camden Yards, sadly cheered for Davis as he walked back to the dugout.
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) April 8, 2019
Davis would eventually finish 0-for-5, striking out in his final two at-bats. His streak now stands at 49 at-bats, and he has a chance to make even more history Tuesday. Per the Baltimore Sun’s Nathan Ruiz, Davis will tie the record for most consecutive plate appearances without a hit at 57.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde expressed sympathy for Davis, praising his quality of contact and defense.
Brandon Hyde on Chris Davis, whose 0-for-5 night included three lineouts: “I was hoping one of those balls would fall, but just didn’t. It’s baseball.”
— Nathan Ruiz (@NathanSRuiz) April 9, 2019
In his postgame comments, Brandon Hyde focused on the quality of contact Chris Davis made tonight, noting "he hit three balls on the nose."
"I'm taking that as a positive moving forward," Hyde said. "How about the defense he played? ... He helped us win the game."
— Joe Trezza (@JoeTrezz) April 9, 2019
Despite the futility when it comes to hits, Davis hasn’t totally lacked offensive success at the plate this season. His four walks gave him a .148 on-base percentage entering Monday, a mark that ranked better than seven qualified batters in the league. He’s also posted two RBIs thanks to a fielder’s choice and a bases-loaded walk.
Of course, that meager production isn’t what the Orioles want when Davis is in the fourth year of a seven-year, $161 contract. A mixture of mental issues, mechanical issues, an ability to deal with shifts and just plain bad luck have likely contributed to this unfortunate streak, but it’s simply hard to watch overall as a once-feared hitter looks completely lost at the plate.
It also can’t be encouraging for Davis, and fans of the team that owes him tens of millions of dollars, to hear that Velez, the previous holder of the record, had his streak end not with a hit, but with the end of his major-league career.
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