The first few weeks of baseball are way too early to make judgments on players. Some begin the year on fire, batting well over .400. While others stumble out of the gates, and take days to get their first hit. Often fans will overreact and want their team to make quick changes at the first sign of struggle. Willie Mays started out his career 0-12 before homering off of Warren Spahn. Had the Giants been quick to get him out of the lineup, one of the greatest players in the history of the game could have rotted on the bench. This season in Milwaukee, Khris Davis provides a shining example of why fans need to be patient while watching April baseball.
Since the day Nori Aoki was traded many in Milwaukee groaned about the colossal loss of a leadoff hitter, and the gaping hole that would be left in the lineup. Many also questioned whether the unproven Khris Davis could hit big league pitching on a consistent basis. These complaints grew louder during the season when Davis went hitless in his first seven at-bats to begin the season, with four strikeouts. But since then, Davis’ bat has caught fire. In his next twelve games he collected twelve hits, including five doubles to raise his average over .300. By driving the ball to all fields, Davis’ bat has been a vital piece in the hot Brewers’ start.
These early season splits show that players need more than just one week to be evaluated. Davis is nowhere near the player who went hitless against tough Atlanta pitching. He also could never be counted on to hit like he did in Boston each series, when he collected eight hits.
To fully evaluate a player, organizations concentrate on what they have seen. In each level of his minor league career, Davis showed that he could hit. He slugged double digit homeruns in all but his first minor league season, even hitting a Timberrattlers club record 22 homeruns and winning the homerun derby in the Midwest League. In 2012 he hit a combined .350 through two levels of minor league ball. When he finally earned full-time playing time in the major leagues Davis showed his raw power by slugging 11 second half homeruns and being among the league leaders in slugging percentage.
The Giants were patient with May and he went on to win the Rookie of the Year in 1951. Though he had early struggles, the criticisms of some fans have been quieted by Khris Davis’ recent hot play. With his power potential, Davis should be a key cog in the heart of the Brewers lineup for years to come and show the fans why the Brewers patience paid off.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference