O's need powerful Davis in 2015

O's need powerful Davis in 2015
Oct 9, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) stands in the batting cage during workouts the day before game one of the 2014 ALCS against the against the Kansas City Royals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports ** Usable by BS, CT, DP, FL, HC, MC, OS, HOY, CGT and CCT ** (Tommy Gilligan, USA Today Sports)

So it came out this week that the Baltimore Orioles voted Chris Davis a full share of their postseason money, a nice six-figure sum for a guy who wasn't even allowed to sit in the dugout during the playoffs.

Many fans probably would have voted him off the island.


You don't get too many shots to play in the World Series. The Orioles haven't been there since 1983 and, after compiling the second-best record in the American League and sweeping the ultra-talented Detroit Tigers, all that stood in their way was the Kansas City Royals.

The Kansas City bleepin' Royals. One of the few teams that was worse than the Orioles for the quarter-century leading up to this year.

Of course, the Orioles not only didn't beat the Royals in the ALCS, they didn't win a single game.

Why was that again? Starting pitching? Bullpen? Defense?

Oh, that's right, it's because they batted .217 with two home runs, their offense so anemic that K.C. won the final games by identical 2-1 scores, clinching the pennant on a pair of first-inning runs without even hitting a ball out of the infield in Game Four.

In addition to those one-run, low-scoring losses, they lost Game 1 in extra innings and were tied heading into the ninth inning of Game Two. A clutch hit here, a long home run there, and it all could've been different.

You know what they could've used? A guy who has hit 112 home runs in his three full seasons with the Orioles.

They could've used Chris Davis.

Except they couldn't use Chris Davis because he was serving a suspension.

Davis, of course, drew a 25-game ban for a positive amphetamines test. He said he was using adderall, something he had previously been allowed to use under a therapeutic use exemption.

He called it a "moment of weakness" during a recent interview on a Christian radio station, pretty much the only time he's discussed any of this since being suspended in September.

His moment of weakness cost him 25 games. It might've cost the Orioles the World Series.

Orioles fans will go into 2015 expecting a continuation of 2014, with great defense, good starting pitching, lights-out relief pitching, and the most powerful lineup in baseball.

It doesn't always work that way, however. Look no further than the AL East. Who would've expected the Boston Red Sox to go from World Series champions in 2013 to division cellar-dwellars in 2014. Or that the young and talented Tampa Bay Rays, after making the World Series in 2008, would fail to advance past the division series over the next six seasons?


No team ever returns intact and the Orioles could lose a lot from 2014, including their top home-run hitter and run producer in Nelson Cruz, their top reliever during the second half of the season in Andrew Miller, and maybe even their longest-tenured player in Gold Glove Award winner Nick Markakis.

Baltimore is most unlikely to make a big splash this offseason. Meanwhile, the rest of the division is trying to catch up.

The Toronto Blue Jays dealt for all-star third baseman Josh Donaldson shortly after Boston committed nearly $200 million for Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. And the New York Yankees won't be silent forever, not after missing the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in two decades.

The Orioles will surely still be in the mix. They'll have seven pitchers competing for five starting spots, and that competition should help the rotation. They'll have the nucleus of a really good bullpen back, including closer Zach Britton. They're expecting to have the healthy returns of Matt Wieters and Manny Machado.

You know what the Orioles need in 2015?

A guy who has hit 112 home runs in his first three full seasons with them.

Yep, Chris Davis.

This team will need a middle-of-the-order bat more than ever, especially if Cruz gets the long-term deal he is looking for elsewhere. Which is why Davis wasn't sent packing out of anger and likely won't be traded regardless of the rumors.

There might be some resentment among fans and maybe even among some teammates (although they'll never admit to it), but a healthy, unsuspended, productive Chris Davis just might be the key to a return to the postseason in 2015 given that the Orioles most likely won't have an ace as most top teams do, or a devastating setup man like Miller, or a last-minute free-agent signing who hits 40 homers as Cruz did.

And you know what? As frustrating as it may have been in October, when a clutch hit here and a long home run there could've meant the difference between advancing or going home, Davis' suspension may pay dividends for Baltimore in 2015.

Remember how motivated Cruz was in 2014 after being suspended for performance-enhancing drugs in 2013? Expect Davis to come back with a similar chip on his shoulder, ready to prove everyone wrong.

Availability is often more important than ability, and nothing can make up for Davis' absence from the 2014 postseason. Except, of course, his powerful presence in 2015 helping the team to a World Series title.

Bob Blubaugh is the Times' sports editor. His column appears every Sunday. Reach him at 410-857-7895 or