The Lord of the AVG: The Kwest for .247
Many things I can command the Mirror to reveal, and to some I can show what they desire to see. But the Mirror will also show things unbidden, and those are often stranger and more profitable than things which we wish to behold. What you will see if you leave the Mirror free to work, I cannot tell. For it shows things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be. But which it is that he sees, even the wisest cannot always tell. Do you wish to look?
– Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings
In a hole in the ground, there lived a DH. Occasionally, he would get up, stretch, and step out of that hole to be on deck. He would then mosey over to the batter’s box and mash home runs.
Grab your 34 inch 31 oz. bat and come along with me. This is your walking stick. You will need it as you join me on this fantastical baseball journey beyond anything Mickey Mantle, Tom Seaver, Barry Bonds, or even J.R.R Tolkien could ever fathom. One man stumbled upon a secret and it was impossible to keep safe.
We have all heard of it. We know its presence. Some people are so enraptured by its power they even tattooed it on their body. In 2018, Khris Davis finished the season with his fourth season in row batting .247. He finished his campaign with 142 hits and 576 at-bats. Statistically, having the same batting average two seasons in a row is rare. Three is crazy. Four in a row is magical, mystical, and mythical.
Introducing The Lord of the AVG: The Kwest for .247. In this article series, I will be tracking Davis’ 2019 journey to bat .247 for the fifth time in a row. At the end of every month, a new chapter will be etched, detailing the saga of Davis’ at-bats.
Back in 2015, something happened to Davis. After his first season hitting .247, he became one of the most prolific power hitters in the game. Has this been a beautiful coincidence? Or has Davis found the dangerous secret to his slugging prowess and all we can do is watch? Let’s dive into the past and look at the last four years to see how we got here.
In 2015, there were only rumors and hushed whispers rolling through Milwaukee. Davis tore his meniscus, spending some time on the disabled list resulting in only 121 games played. His talents were starting to blossom as he hit 27 home runs over those 121 games. Of course, he finished the season at .247 with 97 hits in 392 at-bats. One less at-bat and he hits .248. One more at-bat resulting in an out and he’s still at .247, but who knows what would have happened. Naturally, he had a 24.7% chance of getting a hit in that theoretical at bat possibly pushing his average up to .249. Thankfully, history blessed us all with that missed opportunity.
It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it.
– The Hobbit
The winter comes at it does every year, yet stories of such power swirled into the front offices in Oakland. On the fateful day of February 12, 2016, Davis was traded to the Athletics for Bubba Derby and Jacob Nottingham. Here in Oakland is where this power, unbeknownst to all, would grow far beyond any comprehension. The next three seasons in Oakland have been consistent. Davis has played in 150 or more games with 555 or more at-bats, amassing between 137 and 142 hits all while displaying 40 plus home run power. He also displayed consistent doubles and triples numbers, but his walk rate jumped a bit in 2017. Whatever Davis found in Milwaukee and took with him to Oakland could not be hidden away forever.
With his first season in Oakland, Davis established himself as a true slugger. He finished with more than 40 homers for the first time in his career. At 555 at-bats, Davis hit 137 again for a .247 batting average. With one game remaining, he had to deliver a few hits to drive up his average from .245. He crushed a double and a home run, going 2-5 leaving him at .247 to close out the year.
Two years in the books and not many people caught on. Again, Davis was about to close the year out with over 40 dingers, yet he was significantly shy of .247. With four games to go, Davis was hitting .241. In those final four games, Davis crushed opposing pitching, hitting 7 for 16 with a couple of doubles and a home run. One less hit in that stretch and the streak ends. As if by some miracle, Davis crawled back from near career oblivion to revive an almost lost season. His final batting average: .247.
As the 2018 season wound to a close, loud rumblings could be heard throughout the country. Going into his final game, Davis had 142 hits in 574 at-bats. In order to keep his streak alive, he had five options; 0-0, 0-1, 0-2, 1-4, or 1-5. Any other outcome would have ended the streak. In his first at-bat, Davis flew out. In his second, Davis struck out swinging. Now at 0-2, Davis would have to either end the game there, finish 1-2 or 1-3. With a choice that would seal his third Manager of the Year award, Bob Melvin pinch hit for Davis at the next opportunity. Melvin ensured Davis’ efforts would not be in vain. Four years in a row.
Here we are, days before the start of the 2019 season. The A’s face the Mariners in a two-game series in a far away land across the sea. Davis is set to DH in the heart of a potent A’s lineup, protected on all sides by eight men, willing to stand alongside Davis throughout this journey. With Matt Chapman’s glove, Blake Treinen’s slider, and Matt Olson’s bat, this fellowship must stand and fight against the evil forces of Justin Verlander’s strikeouts from the Astros or the numerous hits allowed from the Rangers pitching staff. As they battle, the fans’ all-seeing eye will be locked in on Davis.
But what does the Mirror show? Are we to expect that Davis will hit .247 again or is that just what we want to see? Below are the 2019 stats from popular projection systems and how his at-bats are to play out.
*guess based on PAs
As expected, Davis is set for another solid season consistent with the last few. Various projection systems have Davis hovering between .239 and .250, all only a few hits away from a .247 average. Davis would only need a few extra hits and a couple of walks in the same amount of plate appearances from Depth Charts, Steamer, or PECOTA and he’s on track. One more strikeout and one great defensive play puts THE BAT projections at .247. These types of outcomes happened over the last four seasons. These hits fall. The outs come at the exact right time. That cannot be a coincidence. Only ZiPS has Davis on the nose, with 131 hits in 531 at bats. However, they do have him for the least amount of playing time he has seen since 2015. Are they right? They better be. Who knows what a loss of such power could mean for Davis’ and the A’s future?
Davis’ consecutive .247 seasons has been one of the most fantastical statistical marvels in sports history. Davis has tapped into a precious power we are drawn to and yearn to possess. Take this journey with me as we keep our watchful all-seeing eye on Davis and his eight companions to finish 2019 hitting .247 for the fifth year in a row.
But it is a heavy burden. So heavy that none could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you. But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right.
– Elrond, The Lord of the Rings
Graphic by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)