Orioles slugger Chris Davis announces retirement

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
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BALTIMORE — Slugger Chris Davis announced his retirement, ending a career in which he became one of baseball’s most prodigious home run hitters before his production declined amid injury problems during his final seasons with the Baltimore Orioles.

Davis, 35, was going to miss the entire 2021 season after surgery in May to repair the labrum in his left hip.

“After an extended time dealing with my injury and recent hip surgery, I informed the Orioles about my decision to retire effective today,” Davis said in a statement released by the team. “I want to thank the Orioles partnership group, led by the Angelos family, the Orioles organization, my teammates and coaches.”

Next year was the final season of Davis’ $161 million, seven-year contract.

Davis led the majors with 53 home runs in 2013 and 47 in 2015. He finishes his career with 295 in 13 seasons with the Orioles and Texas Rangers.

A powerful left-handed hitter at 6-foot-4, Davis was a crucial part of Baltimore’s best run since the 1990s. He helped the Orioles reach the postseason in 2012, 2014 and 2016, although he did not play in the playoffs in 2014, when the team made it to the AL Championship Series.

Davis was suspended 25 games late in that 2014 season for testing positive for Adderall, a banned amphetamine. He later said he had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder previously and been given a therapeutic use exemption for Adderall, but he did not have the exemption in 2014.

Davis’ free-swinging ways could lead to high home run and strikeout totals and low batting averages. He hit .196 with 26 homers in 2014 and .221 with 38 homers and a major league-leading 219 strikeouts in 2016 – the first year of his big contract.

After that, his numbers sank quickly, along with the team’s fortunes. He hit .168 in 2018 and went through an 0-for-54 streak in 2019. Davis hit just .115 over 55 at-bats last year and twice went on the injured list with knee problems.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.