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Tough to top
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - You know when people say "there's nowhere to go but up"?

For Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis, there's nowhere to go but down.

I hate to be that guy, O's fans, but if history tells us anything, it's that career years only happen once.

Unfortunately, Davis had his in 2013.

Of course, the word "unfortunately" doesn't apply to all parties. For those of you who rode Davis and his out-of-nowhere heroics to the title last year, good for you.

And because Davis entered last season with a .258 lifetime average, odds are, you probably got him on the cheap.

A superstar talent that you didn't have to break the bank for? Now there's a feather in your cap.

But, like all celebrations (unless you're Jake Peavy and you paid $75,000 for an actual duck boat), the party has to end sometime.

You know what that means, Davis owners. Time to blow out the candles.

At first glance, it seems ludicrous to be down on someone who just smashed more homers than any player in the 60-year history of Orioles baseball.

Indeed, Davis taught us all a thing or two with his mighty cuts in 2013. Even Miguel Cabrera (44 HR) was left in the dust by "Crush" Davis (53 jacks last season). No player has won the home run crown by a wider margin since Jose Bautista out-slugged Albert Pujols 54-42 back in 2010.

A Mountain Dew-chugging X-box geek in his parents' basement couldn't have come up with a sillier stat line than the one Davis produced in 2013. Fifty-three taters AND 199 strikeouts? That's like pouring maple syrup on a plate of spaghetti ... it just doesn't make any sense.

But here's the stat that will really make your head explode, assuming your cranium survived my last spaghetti metaphor. Davis, that fastball-hammering free spirit, somehow managed a .286 batting average despite making contact about as often as a lunar eclipse. Of the six players in major league history who have struck out with that kind of frequency, only Davis has hit over .270.

The only conclusion you can draw from these impossible stats is that Davis had a season for the ages. But unlike the cast of Seinfeld after Season 9, Davis does not have the luxury of going out on top. He's only 27. Plus his contract doesn't expire until 2015.

So what in the world is Davis supposed to do for an encore after all that?

We won't know until it happens but a precedent does exist for this sort of thing. Since the '05 season, six players not including the aforementioned Davis, have been able to crack the 50-home run barrier.

Not a single one has made it back to 50. In fact, only a handful of them have made it back to 40 (Bautista, Ryan Howard, Andruw Jones and Prince Fielder). David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez could never muster more than 35 round-trippers after reaching 50 in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

So, for better or worse (I guess it's worse if you care about fantasy), it appears Davis has reached his peak. Part of the reason why is because American League pitchers won't allow him to have a better season.

Remember when Barry Bonds bashed his way to 73 dingers in 2001? The next season, that total dipped to 46 as his walk total increased from 177 to 198. Two years later, the Bonds treatment was in full effect as 37.6 percent of his plate appearances resulted in free passes (MLB record 232 walks).

What's the saying, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"? That's where we're at with Davis.

If you throw Davis a high fastball, he WILL hit it out of the park. That's why I don't think he'll see too many of those in 2014.

That's not going to be great for Davis' average. It hasn't been great for the sluggers that have come before him either. Of the 50-home run club's six members since 2005, only two (Bautista and Big Papi) have had their average increase the season after hitting 50 long balls.

Davis' stock seems to be plummeting by the second ... unless we consider the date on his birth certificate. Davis will be 28 on Opening Day, which means technically, he's still in his prime. It also means he's younger than Bautista (29), Ortiz (31), Jones (28) and A-Rod (32) were when they made it to 50 homers. Fielder (24) and Howard (26) were younger than Davis but not by much.

The sequel is never as good as the original but I'm still not convinced Davis will totally implode in 2014. He'll get his 30-35 homers and maybe hit .270, if he's lucky.

But the days of getting him at a fair price ... well, those are over. Be prepared to overpay for Davis on draft day.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.


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