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.
Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.
Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.
Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”
Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.
Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.