BALTIMORE — It’s been an absolutely dizzying start of the 2013 Major League Baseball season for former Navarro College star Chris Davis — similar in ways to the final six games of his first unforgettable 2012 regular season with the Baltimore Orioles.
In the 2013 season’s first five games, the 27-year-old left-handed hitting Davis had 10 hits in 18 at-bats. He launched seven extra-base hits, including a major-league record equaling 4 home runs in his first four games. Not only did he match a mark established by Willie Mays (1971) and later tied by Mark McGwire (1998), and Nelson Cruz (2011), but the Longview native drove in a record 16 runs.
This surreal start produced other staggering numbers: a .556 batting average, an on-base percentage of .591, a slugging percentage of 1.389. Another measure combining on-base percentage with slugging percentage — a 1.980 OPS – was more than 1,000 points above what best major league hitters produce over the course of a 162-game schedule.
Skewed? Sure. Even the outrageous, unsustinable current-season projections of 162 home runs and 648 RBI bring the fifth-year major leaguer back to reality. Still, for a player with a .261 career batting average and a 31% strikeout rate, Davis is enjoying a grand ride on a tsunami-like wave. He’s locked in a groove right now.
On Saturday during the Orioles’ 6-5 loss to Minnesota, Davis’ bid to for a fifth straight game of a hitting a homer and knocking in three or more runs came to an end. Davis committed a 9th-inning error that led to the winning run, and “only” went 1-for-3 at the plate with another RBI.
Davis’ hot start merely is an extension of how he finished an eventful 2012 season and underscores an enormous mother lode of potential. He homered in each of his final six games to finish the year with a team- and personal-high 33 home runs.
The Texas Rangers’ fifth-round draft choice from the 2006 major league draft had an eventful 2012 that saw the Orioles rise from the depths to win an American League Wild Card Playoff game.
On May 6 during a 9-6, 17-inning win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Davis went 0-for-8 at the plate, but became the winning pitcher with two innings of relief work — the first player to accomplish that feat since Rube Waddell on July 4, 1905. Davis became the first position player in the AL to earn a pitching victory since Rocky Colavito on August 25, 1968.
Davis hit his first career grand slam off the New York Yankees’ Ivan Nova in an 11-5 win on July 31 — a game in which the Orioles rallied from a five-run deficit.
On August 24, Davis had a three-homer game against the Toronto Blue Jays and eclipsed his previous high single-season total.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder came to Navarro from Longview High School, where he played shortstop. He saw action at third and first base for Navarro. He was selected in the major league baseball draft three successive years (2004-06) by the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers.
Here is a link to an ESPN.com story about Chris Davis’ early success: