Davis, suspended in September for a second positive test for using a banned performance-enhancing stimulant, still has five games to serve on that suspension before he can return. And as much as it might be nice to have Davis and his 26 homers available to start or pinch-hit in potential Games 6 and 7, the flip side of that is you play a man short for Games 1-5.
The other flip side is: the Orioles have been playing lights-out baseball for an extended period that covers the Davis suspension.
Davis, 28, never really got going in 2014. His 26 home runs represent a sharp drop-off from his 53 long balls in 2013, and his slash line is anemic – .196/.300/.404, down dramatically from the .286.370/.634 he put up in 2013.
Steve Pearce has more than made up for the Davis decline. Moving around the field in 2014 as the O’s battled injuries at first, third and in the outfield at various times, Pearce, designated for assignment earlier this year, hit .293/.373/.556 with 21 homers in 102 games, replacing the pop missing with Davis out of the lineup with more reliability than Davis had given the offense this year.
Assuming the Orioles make it to the World Series, Davis can have a role on the 25-man roster, no question, but it’s debatable as to whether he is inserted back into the starting lineup. Pearce can move to third to make room for Davis at first, but Ryan Flaherty has been playing solid defense at the hot corner, even with reduced offensive production (.221/.288/.356, 7 HR, 32 RBI) since replacing Manny Machado (.278/.324/.431, 12 HR, 32 RBI) after the starting third baseman went down to injury in August.
At this point, Davis adds pop at DH and off the bench, but that might be about it.
– Column by Chris Graham