Tag Archives: Khris Davis

A pitch Khris Davis can’t hit

Khris Davis is a masher. He crushed pitching as a minor leaguer, and has boomed 33 home runs in 200 career games.

Now, I was leading the ‘I believe in Khris Davis‘ movement even before he surprised everyone during Spring Training in 2013, and I even had the opportunity to interview him last year. But despite my clear bias towards the man, Davis has a fault that pitchers took advantage of in 2014; he can’t hit the changeup.

The Milwaukee Brewers, as a team, weren’t thrown many changeups in 2014 but, according to Baseball Savant, Davis saw 225 of them alone, leading the club. The fastest changeup was 90 mph and the slowest was 74.2 mph. As the season wore on, pitchers began to figure out that the changeup was his Achilles’ heel, and they also discovered that they needed to pitch him down on the corners and out of the zone (see picture below).

Khris  Davis_img

They absolutely dominated Davis with low changeups and stayed away from leaving them up in the zone. With the aggressive nature of Davis, pitchers knew their changeup didn’t need to be a strike for him to take a whack at it, and he ended up whiffing at 25.3% of them.

Here’s a breakdown of what Davis did when we was thrown a change. Spoiler: It’s not pretty.

chart

He swung and missed more often than he put the ball in play, and managed only eight hits for a .131 average. Just five players had worse batting averages versus the change (minimum 50 ABs): Jason Kipnis (.098), Adam Dunn (.100), Brandon Moss (.101), Alex Avila (.115), and Brian Dozier (.122).

After all of this, I probably don’t need to tell you that Davis was worth -5 runs against the changeup, the 10th-worst mark in baseball among qualified hitters. However, with that being said, he was worth positive runs versus every other pitch, with the exception of the split-fingered fastball. The changeup seems to be the only pitch with which Davis has a real problem. Sure, he batted just .217 against the four-seam fastball, but he knocked 10 of them out of the park and garnered a .276 isolated power.

2015 will be a big year for Davis. He’s entering his age-27 season, and will most likely have to compete with Gerardo Parra for playing time. If he can’t be at least average with the changeup and if he continues going fishing out of the zone, pitchers will have a field day with him.

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Pick an outfielder: Khris Davis vs. Gerardo Parra

When the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Gerardo Parra from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a July trade, Ron Roenicke assured us that Khris Davis wouldn’t lose much time in left field. And although it began that way, it was Parra, not Davis, who was being penciled into the lineup card more often towards the end of the season.

So the question has to be asked; who would you rather see in left field? The last time we played this game (Marco Estrada vs. Brandon Kintzler), Estrada was traded just a few days later, so maybe this is a bad idea. But oh well, let’s do it anyway.

The two outfielders bring different things to the table. If you want defense, Parra’s your man. If you covet over-the-fence power, Davis will get your vote.

We’ll start with Parra.

Parra is a six-year veteran who owns a career .313 wOBA and 90 wRC+. In other words, he’s nothing special as a hitter, but is still serviceable. Most of his value comes from his glove. He’s the owner of two Gold Glove awards (2011 and 2013), and has a 61.5 UZR as an outfielder, third-highest since 2009. In 2013, he was worth over four wins, but his value dramatically decreased in 2014, which made it easy for Arizona’s front office to ship him off.

In 440 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks last season, Parra posted -0.4 WAR. But as a Brewer, he was a completely different player. In only 134 plate appearances, Parra accumulated 0.5 WAR. I expect him to finish 2015 with a WAR around 1.0, but that obviously depends how much playing time he receives. If he even comes close to that, the Brewers will walk away from the trade victorious. Mitch Haniger, the player Milwaukee traded away, is at best a fifth or sixth outfielder, and doesn’t have much value.

Unlike Parra, Davis isn’t a great defender. He was better than expected in 2014 (3.1 UZR), but still nowhere near his counterpart’s ability. Instead, Davis is known for his pop. Last year, Davis told me that he likes being the team’s secret weapon, but after a year in which he hit 22 home runs and posted the highest ISO on the team, he’s no secret. Leading the team in isolated power is pretty impressive when you realize he beat out guys like Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun. Despite this, however, his on-base percentage (.299) and wRC+ (107) left a lot to be desired and are a bit worrisome. He only drew 32 walks and struck out at a 22% clip. Luckily, 2014 was just his first full big league season and he has time to progress. He exceeded people’s expectations. Who says he won’t do that again?

Platooning the two is also an option. As you can imagine, Davis doesn’t like hitting off righties and Parra loathes the thought of seeing a southpaw. If the Brewers choose to follow this route, Parra would see the majority of the playing time as most pitchers in the NL Central are right-handed. Personally, I’m not a fan of platoons, but sometimes it’s necessary (see Scooter Gennett).

Davis is still listed as the starting left fielder according to the Brewers’ official website, and I think that’s the right call. With Davis’ power ability, he needs to be in the lineup every day, and improvement should come from the 26 year old along with a better understanding of how the game is played. Parra is a great bat to have off the bench who will replace Davis in the late innings of close games. But if Davis continues to flounder when it comes to getting on base, Ron Roenicke may have to sacrifice his power and go with Parra.

It’s time for you to make a decision.