In general, it’s not a great idea to react to early season slumps and make rash decisions about who should play and who should not. The numbers are all still small samples, and we should generally expect players to perform about the same as we did when spring training ended, regardless of how they’ve played so far.
However, there are teams that should make some changes, and one in particular stands out. Down in Texas, it’s time for them to make a change at first base.
Chris Davis is, once again, struggling at the plate. This isn’t new, as he posted a .311 wOBA last year. He’s tried to increase his contact rate to cut down on the strikeouts, but it’s coming at the cost of his power, as he has yet to hit a home run. Davis doesn’t do enough other things well to be a valuable player without the longballs, and he’s still got a decent amount of work to do if he’s going to become a good big league hitter.
The Rangers can’t afford to let him work out his problems in Arlington, however, not when they have a viable alternative hanging out in Triple-A. Justin Smoak, one of the game’s premier prospects, is just terrorizing PCL pitching, hitting .326/.500/.587. As a stark contrast to Davis, Smoak has drawn 16 walks and struck out just 6 times in his 62 plate appearances so far.
Smoak has a really good approach at the plate, and while he doesn’t have Davis’ raw power, he puts the bat on the ball enough to drive the ball into the gap with regularity. With the Rangers offense scuffling, they could use Smoak’s ability to get on base. Davis may yet turn into a quality big league first baseman, but the Rangers are in a pennant race, and they can’t dig too big of a hole early in the season.
Texas’ best line-up includes Smoak at first base. Already three games back in the AL West and losers of six in a row, it’s time for them to make the move.
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