Why is Chris Davis still batting fifth?

Chris Davis has been many things this season. He is a breakout star. He is the league leader in home runs. He is the league leader in slugging percentage. He is the best player on a surprising (again) Baltimore Orioles team. He is a top contender for the AL MVP. He is arguably the best hitter in baseball this season.

He is also batting fifth. Huh? What?

Yes, for some reason Buck Showalter has yet to see fit to move the monster that is Chris Davis up in the order even though common sense would seem to suggest that being a good idea. So what gives?

The Orioles stand to gain from moving Davis up in the order, presumably swapping him with the incumbent three-hole hitter Nick Markakis who is getting on base at a decent .339 clip but is only slugging .420. Over the course of the season, the difference between the three-hole and five-hole is roughly 30 plate appearances, which isn't a huge amount, but you'd still rather those extra PAs go to Davis than Markakis.

There is also the matter of minimizing the opportunity for teams to pitch around Davis who has already set a new career-high with nine intentional walks this season, five of which have come in the last 30 days. One has to imagine that teams would be less willing to take the bat out of the hand if Adam Jones (.301/.324/.506) were hitting behind him rather than Matt Wieters (.228/.287/.406) or even J.J. Hardy (.264/.302/.462).

A few dozen extra plate appearances and better lineup protection are great and all but ultimately they aren't going to make huge difference in Davis' production. Clearly it hasn't held him back thus far. Perhaps it is that somewhat limited reward to making a change that has discouraged Showalter. From his perspective, this may be simple case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Even with Davis batting fifth, the Orioles are still the second-highest scoring team in baseball. There is also the very real possibility that Davis will eventually come back to earth. Let's not forget that two years ago Davis was struggling to prove that he could even hit major league pitching. Even one year ago he was pretty much a one trick pony. His one trick, crushing homers, was a really good trick, but it wasn't until these last three months that he demonstrated that he could play at such a ridiculously high level. Maybe Showalter was skeptical that Davis could keep hitting like this, so he was reticent to shake up the batting order. Or maybe he just doesn't want to do change anything for fear that it might somehow disrupt Davis.

Whatever the reasoning, you'd think that Showalter would eventually give into the temptation to see what Davis can do in the three-hole. The idea of a Machado-Davis-Jones trio in the batting order just seems to good to pass up for an entire season.

Garrett Wilson

About Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is the founder and Supreme Overlord of Monkeywithahalo.com and editor at The Outside Corner. He's an Ivy League graduate, but not from one of the impressive ones. You shouldn't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he is angry.