March 22, 2010
Patience simply isn't a virtue in Fantasyland. Suffice it to say, epic, slow-building rock masterpieces never blare on its denizens' radios. No person should have to wait for a Jimmy Page guitar solo.
It's because of this incessant yearning for instant gratification, laggard development by top prospects is typically deemed unacceptable. High-ceiling youngsters who initially underperform are unfairly damned. As a result, expectations and price-tags the following season are often times greatly reduced.
A season ago, the Rangers' slugger was the darling of the fantasy sports world. Pundits and experienced players alike hoisted the future home run king onto an unreachable pedestal, drowning the unproven commodity in unwarranted adoration. Blessed with prodigious raw power and an everyday gig in an RBI-friendly lineup, Davis, it seemed, was destined to "Crush" a lot.
However, prolonged droughts spurred by a lack of plate discipline led to a dramatic downfall. Sporting a .202 BA and dreadful 44.1 strikeout rate by the end of June, he, deservedly so, was banished north to Oklahoma City. In the eyes of the eager, his reputation was forever tarnished. Justin Smoak(notes) would soon make him a complete afterthought.
Instead of wallowing in minor league exile, Davis, under the guidance of OKC hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, retooled his approach, suppressing his overly voracious demeanor at the dish. When recalled in late August, he was a different player compiling a .308 BA with six homers and 26 RBI in 133 at-bats. Loose-fitting fan toupees were still in peril whenever he stepped into the box, but his 27.1 K percentage during that span was a significant improvement.
This past offseason, the 24-year-old continued to work hard building on his late-season success. The results this spring have been eye-opening. Granted it's a small sample, but he's collected 18 hits in 44 at-bats with two homers and 10 RBI. More importantly, he's posted an 11:3 K:BB split (25.0 K%). Davis credits his cooler persona for the turnaround. From MLB.com:
"I'm a singles machine," David joked. "A couple of those singles came with two strikes. That's big. I'm not a stranger at swinging at balls in the dirt, but that's when hitting to the opposite field comes in, not trying to do too much but just put the ball in play."
Manager Ron Washington has been impressed with his young power hitter's mental strides noting he's "not over-swinging" and "controlling the strike-zone." That frame of mind has regained the skipper's confidence. From the Dallas Morning News:
"Everything he's been through, there's still people who are going to doubt Chris Davis," Washington said. "But I don't doubt Chris Davis."
Although Washington admittedly is a recreational "skier," his words couldn't be truer. The fantasy masses shouldn't doubt Davis. His light-tower power, shortened swing and entrenched spot batting sixth in a loaded Rangers lineup bode well for a breakthrough campaign. With an ADP of 150.97 according to Mock Draft Central - Jorge Cantu(notes) territory - he is quite possibly the greatest power grab in the middle rounds of mixed leagues.
Unless you're in a deep mixed or AL-only league, Davis isn't your primary choice at first base. The position is brimming with boppers. But because he also qualifies at power-strapped third, Davis, who has 686 career MLB at-bats under his belt, is the prototype post-hype sleeper who will pay an enormous dividend. Minus steals, a Mark Reynolds(notes)-like production leap isn't unfathomable.
Too bad his acquired patience won't rub off on the fantasy masses.
Fearless Forecast: 501 at-bats, .269 BA, 32 HR, 98 RBI, 82 R, 3 SB
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