Wednesday, August 22, 2012

From Jeff Conine to Chris Davis: A Recent History of Offensive Futility at First Base

For more than 10 years, the Baltimore Orioles have been looking for a regular first baseman. By and large, they have failed.

Below is a graph showing the Orioles' offensive output measured by sOPS+, a comparison of OPS compared to the rest of the league's first basemen. (sOPS+ stats pulled from

As you can see, the best the Orioles have done over the past 10 seasons is flirt with average production from their first baseman.

Back in 2003, Jeff Conine was just hanging on and the offensive output was pitiful. Production was buoyed a bit with the second tour of duty of Rafael Palmeiro and the massively underrated Kevin Millar from 2004-2007 (with an occasional assist by Aubrey Huff although he was mainly a DH). 2009-11 saw new lows in bad hitting first baseman with the likes of Aubrey Huff, Ty Wigginton, Garrett Atkins and Derrek Lee.

The Oriole farm system has been bereft of legitimate first base prospects for many years and they team has tried and failed to patch that hole through free agency with disatrous results at worst and mediocre results at best. Andy MacPhail addressed the issue by trading or claiming off of waivers every corner infieder he could  lay his hands on which is why we saw appearances by Rhyne Hughes, Michael Aubrey and Scott Moore over the past few years.

But finally, some of those MacPhail trades have paid off as Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis have combined to provide slightly above average offensive production at the position with some poor production from Wilson Betemit, Nick Johnson and Joe Mahoney dragging it down.

Chris Davis is under team control for the next three years and may be the closest thing the Orioles have had to a regular productive first baseman the club has had in years. He's probably not going to be the answer but he's not a disaster. It's not much but it's a start.


Anonymous said...

Boog Powell played 17 seasons and had four (4) really good years. Boog's average output per season was 27 HRs and 94 RBIs. Chris Davis is already at 20 HRs and 60 RBIs and he has over 40 games left to play. Give the guy a break. He's no Eddie Murray, but who is?

DempseysArmy said...

I don't know, I thought I was giving Chris Davis a break. He is a productive first baseman and I have no issues with him going forward but he is a flawed player. Lots of K's, not a lot of walks and he isn't likely to hit 30 homers a season.

He's good but I don't think we can call him a cornerstone.

Anonymous said...

Plus, he throws a nasty changeup