It's a result of countless discussions that Davis has had in the indoor batting cages with hitting coach Jim Presley, who told Davis to look at his 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame and realize he could hit homers without having to muscle a ball out. And it's the result of knowing he's going to be in the lineup every day — that's he's here in the big leagues to stay as a key piece of the Orioles and their success.
Davis entered Monday's off day leading the
But Davis is more proud of his eight walks through 12 games, or the fact that he's hitting .429 (6-for-14) with runners in scoring position, or that he's driven in seven of those 19 runs on two-strike counts.
“I think the biggest thing for me was early in
Describing his offensive tear from the visitors dugout at
Before he was dealt from the
“I know for a fact it was hard on him, just seeing younger guys get more opportunities than you,” said Orioles right-hander
With his 515 at-bats last season, Davis led the Orioles with 33 homers and 85 RBIs while hitting .270.
He did, however, strike out 169 times, the fourth-highest total in the American League. So, Presley has preached patience with Davis, telling him that he doesn't have to swing from his heels to be productive.
“When you hit consistently in the minor leagues like he did it, it's going to show up eventually, and last year and this year it's showing up,” Presley said. “You're seeing why he put up the numbers he put up in the minor leagues. With young players, they have to learn how to hit here. Not every young player is going to come out and rake and be like
Davis has been at his best this season with men on base — he's 9-for-20 with six extra-base hits (two doubles, four homers) and 17 RBIs.
“He just looks comfortable,” said center fielder
Davis said receiving Showalter's faith that he could be the Orioles' everyday first baseman after struggling there last season has carried over at the plate. After Davis was displaced by
Early in the offseason, Showalter called Davis and told him he wanted him to play first.
“That was huge for me because it let me know where I stood with the club,” Davis said. “There have been days when I've come in here and I haven't had to look at the lineup card, just knowing that I'm going to be playing first and hitting somewhere in the middle of the order. It's a great feeling to have. I think last year [moving around] was taking a toll on me, especially at the end of the season because it felt like I was burning the candle at both ends.”
This offseason, Davis said, he got back to the routine that earned him the reputation as a strong first baseman coming up through the minors. Working with infield coach Bobby Dickerson, Davis got back to a first base mentality. He had played a lot of third base before he arrived in Baltimore, so he had developed a charge-and-throw mentality. He's reset his internal clock, knowing he can play back on balls and still make the play at first.
“The things I'm proud of right now are the way he's playing first base and the way he's handling the attention,” Showalter said. “He's handled it real well.”
Now the question is whether Davis — who has been a streaky hitter in the past — can sustain those strong at-bats, cut down on strikeouts and shorten the slumps that are bound to occur during a 162-game season.
“He's human,” Presley said. “He's going to struggle at some point. It's just about shortening that struggling period. It's not just about hitting home runs. We need him to drive in RBIs when they present themselves, man on third base and infield back. I tell him all the time, ‘That's how you drive in 100 RBIs. It's not just the three-run home run. It's getting that run in during the first inning when the infield's back. That's how you do that.'
“Let me tell you what, he's a great kid with a great work ethic. He's got a great mentality to play this game and he wants it. So I think this start doesn't surprise me at all.”