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Be Excited about Chris Davis

Power hitters playing in Texas are a fantasy player’s dream. Chris Davis certainly fits the bill.

Throughout his minor league career, all Davis has done is mash. Despite being young for his level at virtually every stop, Davis has a career minor league line of .302/.357/.595, with 75 homers in 275 games. Last year, Davis got the call to the big leagues and didn’t disappoint, hitting .285/.331/.549 with the Rangers, and smacking 17 homers in only 80 games.

Davis is a hulking slugger who swings quite hard, and, not surprisingly, strikes out a lot. However, Davis managed to keep his strikeouts to a reasonable level in the minors (again, despite being young for the league) without sacrificing power. Thus, he was able to hit over .300 in the minors.

While Davis may not ever hit .300 in the majors (at least not next year), don’t expect Davis to fall into the low batting average category occupied by the likes of Adam Dunn and Ryan Howard. Davis hit .285 as a 22-year-old in the majors, an impressive feat for any 22-year-old, but even more impressive for a guy who also slugged nearly .600! While he did strike out in 30% of his plate appearances, he also hit the ball extremely hard when he made contact, posting a line-drive percentage of 25.5%. Thus, his corresponding .353 BABIP – while certainly very high – is not out of line with expectations. This line-drive percentage is unlikely to remain quite so high, and his BABIP may fall somewhat, but it’s not unreasonable to expect Davis to maintain a rather high BABIP next year as well.

Furthermore, Davis’s power is completely legitimate, and very rare to find. His uppercut swing produces more fly balls than ground balls – an excellent sign for a power hitter – and it’s simply incredibly rare to find a young hitter with such a track record of power. Davis hit 20.5% of his fly balls for homers, and there’s no reason that this can’t continue next year, given his amazing raw power. Furthermore, Davis plays in one of the best home ballparks for power – especially left-handed power – in baseball, which should further increase his raw numbers.

Finally, it looks as if Davis will qualify at third base next season (as well as first base), thereby increasing his value even more. He’s surrounded by an excellent lineup, and should have plenty of players on base in front of him, leading to a lot of RBI.

Chris Davis is a perfect storm of exciting potential: he has a stellar track record, a ridiculous amount of power, an excellent lineup around him, and a home park perfectly suited for his abilities. It’s not unreasonable to expect that Davis could be a top-5 fantasy third baseman in 2009.