Despite declaring before Wednesday's doubleheader in Boston that first baseman Chris Davis, in the midst of a miserable September slump, would play on the team's final homestand this weekend, those plans have changed.
Davis is unlikely to play in any of the final four games against the Houston Astros this weekend, manager Buck Showalter said Friday, solidifying that his .168 batting average this year will be the lowest ever among qualified major league hitters.
It's a dramatic change from earlier this month, when Davis was in one of the hottest stretches he's had this season as the calendar turned from August to September. A 19-game stretch where Davis hit .292 beginning on Aug. 14 saw him bring his average up from .158 to .180 in 19 games. He said at the time he had a good feeling, and Showalter said at the time Davis had been in a good place for a while.
But that was the peak for Davis, who has one hit with 21 strikeouts in the ensuing 40 plate appearances over a 10-game span. He is hitless in his past 21 at-bats.
Had Davis started sitting earlier — he hasn't played since Saturday at Yankee Stadium — then he might have been able to avoid the ignominy of the worst average in history. By the standard of requiring 3.1 plate appearances per team game to qualify for the batting title, Davis' 522 plate appearances just beat the threshold of 502.
By weighted runs created plus (wRC+), Davis' mark of 46 is third-lowest among qualifiers since 2000, with Clint Barmes of the 2006 Colorado Rockies coming in at 38 and Neifi Pérez in 2006 at 39, according to FanGraphs. League-average in that statistic is 100. His weighted on-base average (wOBA) of .239 is the lowest since 2000 as well.
Davis has four years remaining on the seven-year, $161 million contract he signed after the 2015 season.
Sunday starter not named
The Orioles will need to get through Friday's game and Saturday's doubleheader before determining who will start the season finale Sunday, Showalter said.
"I won't have one until probably post," Showalter said. "I'm hoping things go well enough that I can tell you one before the second game [Saturday]. But I'm not counting on it."
With David Hess, Dylan Bundy and Yefry Ramírez starting the first three games of the series, options are limited. Jimmy Yacabonis threw 82 pitches Wednesday — one short of his career high set May 2 for Triple-A Norfolk — and would be on three days’ rest, and all of Miguel Castro (knee), Andrew Cashner (knee), Alex Cobb (finger), Luis Ortiz (hamstring), Evan Phillips and Josh Rogers are not available.