Chris Davis is off to a torrid start for the Baltimore Orioles. He’s hitting .400 with a 1.100 slugging percentage, 6 homers an 19 RBI. He probably is the hottest hitter in baseball right now. He’s striking fear in the hearts of pitchers.
Now’s the time to sell.
Sure the power is legit, Davis has always been able to hit for power. But clearly he’s going to cool down at some point. The question becomes how much does he cool off and is what is left after the hot streak justify keeping Davis as opposed to cashing in now and reaping huge rewards.
The biggest difference for Davis this season — and the one I think he cannot keep up — is his strikeout rate. Davis has consistently struck out about 30 percent of the time in his Major League career. Even last season, when he had a career year, Davis struck out 30.1 percent of the time. This season, Davis has cut that in half to 15.8 percent. There’s no way he keeps his strikeout rate this low. Power hitters tend to strike out a lot, Davis in particular has historically struck out a lot. I would bet that by the end of the season that strikeout rate is up in at least the 20s. And his OBP will drop as his strikeout rate increases, as he is unlikely to keep his walk rate at 15.8 percent (over double his 2012 walk rate of 6.6 percent).
The other thing that concerns me about Davis is his reliance on a high BABIP (batting average on balls in play) to keep his average decent. In fairness, Davis has historically had high BABIP. But, should his BABIP drop his average will drop like a falling rock.
There is certainly a chance Davis will have a monster year and be a top fantasy player. But I have enough concerns about Davis regressing to his career averages in non-power categories that I would see what I could get for him now while he’s raking. There will never be a better time to sell than now, so don’t get caught holding the bag.