Great starts live long in the memory. Posting terrific numbers in April seems to have a much different effect on the way we remember players than putting up a great July or playing the best ball of your season between May 17th and June 23rd. The impression made in the season’s early days lasts a long time.
The All Star Break doesn’t reset our memories but it does provide a discreet starting and ending point.
There isn’t a lot of good to come from Ryan Braun‘s suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. One potential positive for the Brewers, amid a sea of bad PR and hurt feelings, might be the play of Khris Davis. Braun was the Brew Crew’s left fielder of the present and the future, so somebody needed to step into the role in Braun’s absence. Khris Davis didn’t jump in right away but he earned his chances when they were given.
After the All Star break, the Brewers used Khris Davis as a pinch hitter five times without giving him a start. First, he homered. Then, he walked. In his third pinch hit appearance after the break, he singled. A few days later, he was doubled switched into left field after a blown save. In his first plate appearance that day, he homered again.
At the beginning of August, Davis was all but given the starting left fielders job and he has responded, well, amazingly. Khris Davis has an incredible .375/.446/.828 line across 74 second half plate appearances. Only three National League hitters can best his eight homers since the midsummer classic.
At the very least, Davis is giving the Brewers something to think about. At 25-years old, Davis is showing the same sort of offensive profile in the big leagues he showed across his entire minor league career.
There is a very good chance Khris Davis isn’t a “.828 slugging percentage” true talent offensive player but demonstrating this type of offensive skill is nothing if not encouraging for Doug Melvin and the Brewers brass. For team in the middle of a full rebuild, a cost-controlled bat like Davis is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Davis’ eight home runs are equalled in the National League by four players, one of whom is Will Venable. The Padres outfielder is in the middle of a mini-breakout season, finally showing the sort of power expected from the big center fielder. His .272/.312/.508 season line looks even better when we recall his home park, the offensive graveyard that Petco Park.
Venable is on a tear in the second half, posting a gaudy .365/.398/.675 line with eight homers and six steals. It isn’t just the homers he hits, but when he hits them.
Four of Venable’s last five home runs have come in late and close situations, putting the Padres in great position to win each time. The Padres aren’t headed to the playoffs this season but these types of contributions tend to live long in the memory of all fans.
2013 has been a real rollorcoaster ride for Mets first baseman Ike Davis. Sent down to the minors after a ghastly start, Davis returned to the big leagues at the beginning of July. When the All Star game rolled around, Davis still owned a measly .504 OPS for the season, the lowest mark in baseball at that time.
Since play resumed after the festivities in New York, Davis has bested that sad first half production with a .516…slugging percentage. Add in his .301 average and .472 on base percentage and you have a new man altogether. Three home runs and 30 walks give the Mets hope that the first half of this season was just a bad dream, and their patient slugger is here to stay.
Splits over six weeks or two months don’t tell the whole story of a player’s future but, for these three quiet second half surgers give their fans and teams hope that full seasons of excellent production await.