Orioles first baseman Chris Davis could not have started the 2019 season off worse. After an 0-for-3 performance on Thursday afternoon against the Yankees, which included three strikeouts, manager Brandon Hyde opted to pinch-hit for him with Hanser Alberto in the eighth inning against lefty Zack Britton. Alberto singled to put runners on first and second, but the Orioles couldn’t capitalize.
Davis remains hitless on the season in 21 trips to the plate. He has whiffed in 11 of those plate appearances. On the bright side, he has drawn four walks. Davis also started last season slowly, going hitless in his first 17 plate appearances before registering his first hit, a single, in the Orioles’ fourth game.
The major league record for consecutive games without a hit to begin the season by a non-pitcher is 23 by Eugenio Velez in 2011 with the Dodgers. So, Davis has a long way to go.
Davis, 33, was the third-place finisher in AL MVP balloting back in 2013, leading the majors in home runs and RBI with 53 and 138, respectively. He again led the majors in home runs in 2015 with 47. Since then, however, it has been a steep drop. Following his .923 OPS in ’15, Davis put up a .792 OPS in ’16, .732 in ’17, and a staggering .539 last year.
Davis is in the fourth year of his seven-year, $161 million contract. It hasn’t gone well for the Orioles.
The Yankees’ 2019 run ended in heartbreak on Saturday night when, despite a stunning ninth-inning comeback, they fell 6-4 to the Astros and officially lost their bid for the AL pennant. Now, facing a long offseason, there are a few decisions to be made.
One of those falls on the shoulders of outfielder Aaron Hicks, who told reporters that he “thinks he can continue playing without Tommy John surgery.” It’s unclear whose recommendation he’s basing that decision on, however, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out that Tommy John surgery was recommended during the slugger’s most recent meeting with Dr. Neal ELAttrache.
Hicks originally sustained a season-ending right flexor strain in early August and held several consultations with ElAttrache and the Yankees’ physician in the months that followed. He spent two and a half months on the 60-day injured list and finally returned to the Yankees’ roster during the ALCS, in which he went 2-for-13 with a base hit and a Game 5 three-run homer against the Astros.
Of course, a handful of strong performances doesn’t definitively prove that the outfielder is fully healed — or that he’ll be able to avoid aggravating the injury with further activity. Granted, Tommy John surgery isn’t a minor procedure; it’s one that requires up to a year of rest and rehabilitation before most players are cleared to throw again. Should Hicks wait to reverse his decision until he reports for spring training in 2020, though, it could push his return date out by another six months or so.