Monday, September 23, 2013
The MVP case for Chris Davis
By David Schoenfield
Note: We're making the case for each of the five top AL MVP contenders today. Here are Robinson Cano and Josh Donaldson and now Chris Davis.
1. For all the talk about Miguel Cabrera's potential Triple Crown, Davis leads him in home runs (51 to 44) and may end up catching him in RBIs (Cabrera leads 136 to 134). (Update: Davis homered in Monday afternoon's game and now has 52 home runs and 136 RBIs.)
2. Davis hasn't hit as well in the second half, but that shouldn't be held against him; a win in April counts in the standings just as much as a win in September. Plus, he also had a huge August -- .297/.395/.660, nine home runs, 23 RBIs -- to help keep Baltimore close.
3. The Orioles won't make the playoffs, but don't blame Davis for that. The Orioles have lost nine games they led heading into the ninth inning -- the major league average is three. Convert three or four of those losses into wins and the O's are still right there in the wild-card race. Why vote against Davis simply because Jim Johnson has been horrible?
4. The main reason to vote for Davis: He's arguably been the best clutch hitter in the majors this season. One advanced stat to consider: win probability added (WPA), which factors when a player's offensive contributions are made -- a home run in a 3-3 game in the ninth is worth more than a home run in a 6-2 game in the seventh, for example. Davis leads all AL position players in WPA -- 7.7, followed by Cabrera's 6.8, Donaldson's 4.9, Cano's 4.7 and Trout's 4.5.
5. Both Davis and Cabrera have hit well in high-leverage situations -- 1.200 OPS for Cabrera, 1.194 for Davis -- although Davis leads the majors in RBIs in high-leverage situations with 61 (Cabrera is tied for sixth with Cano at 48).
6. Where Davis has really displayed his clutch hitting is in "late and close" situations -- seventh inning or later, and the batting team is either leading by one run, tied, or has the potential tying run on base, at bat, or on deck. In those situations, Davis is hitting .312/.383/.774, with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs.
7. Compare that to Cabrera, who is hitting .244/.392/.410 with four home runs and 10 RBIs, or Trout, who is hitting .259/.442/.306 with no home runs and six RBIs. Martin Prado is second in the majors with 22 RBIs in those situations, so Davis has 11 more than any other player. Davis also leads all players in home runs and slugging percentage in late and close situations.
8. The four worst pitching teams in the AL have been Houston, Minnesota, Toronto and Seattle. Trout has played 50 games against those four teams, Donaldson 47, Cabrera 36, Davis and Cano 35. So you can argue that Trout and Donaldson have benefited from a little softer slate of pitchers.
9. Davis has 51 home runs and 41 doubles. Here's the list of players who have done that: Babe Ruth (1921), Albert Belle (1995) and Davis.
10. Against the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees -- Davis has 46 RBIs in 53 games.