On August 12th, Orioles released a statement that first baseman Chris Davis had retired from baseball. The news came as a surprise as we usually don’t get a player retiring midseason unless they can’t get a deal signed, but this was unique. This was especially surprising considering that Davis was still under contract for next season.
While this day was always coming, it caught me off guard. I always thought I would be happy when Davis retired or was released, but I didn’t feel satisfied. I didn’t celebrate or feel sad; I felt nothing, and I moved on with my day. I think what added to this is we haven’t seen Davis much these last two years.
Davis had a hot Spring Training in 2020 before COVID-19 shut down the season. When the season eventually did start, he only started 16 games and had 52 at-bats. Davis tried to come back again this spring training only to shut down again and would end up never playing again.
Look, we all know how bad Davis has been these last five years, and we will probably never know why he regressed the way he did. He couldn’t live up to the massive contract he was handed, and the contract held the Orioles back in terms of being competitive. Even more, unfortunately, is that the contract came at a time when they could have used that money attached to Davis and spent it on a Manny Machado extension or more pitching in 2017 and 2018.
Chris Davis had the epitome of a roller coaster career. The first year he got full playing time in Baltimore was 2012, where he impressed, with a .270/.326/.501 slash line and 33 home runs. Then came the year that made Davis’s career. His 2013 numbers were silly; he batted .286/.370/.634 with 53 home runs, including 37 in the first half. While Davis didn’t do that well in 2014, then famously had a PED suspension that kept him from playing in the team’s postseason run, he bounced back in 2015 and put up solid numbers again, batting .262/.361/.562 with 47 home runs. This was the last year he had truly great production, and it came at the worst time, right before he hit free agency.
Since he signed his massive extension, Davis couldn’t even produce at a major league level. What makes this worse is that even if Davis had put up solid production, he still would have been overpaid.
Despite all the negative talk, Davis still has numbers that will put him into the Orioles Hall of Fame, and he had a terrific off-field impact. He did a lot for the Baltimore community, donating time and money to hospitals and hosting events to raise money for a great cause. Off-field impact isn’t discussed enough, and he did a lot of good in Baltimore despite the awful contract.
Terrible contract aside, Chris Davis remains one of the most important players to one of the most crucial periods to this franchise. When you walk along Eutaw Street, and you see the names of the men strong enough to hit a home run there, and Chris Davis is well-represented.
Yes, Davis didn’t deserve that contract at that price, and he was massively overpaid, but he didn’t force the team to give him all that money.
As for the people who don’t want Davis in the Orioles Hall of Fame, remember that he didn’t give himself that awful contract, and he was never going to live up to it.
Davis gave me and many Orioles fans the thrill of their lives in the summer of 2013, and he still has solid enough numbers to get into the O’s Hall of Fame.
My last thought is that I hope Davis is at peace in all aspects of his life, and I hope fans will try to look positively on his carrier when he eventually gets a green jacket at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.