Wind: 1.99 m/h
As an Orioles fan, you would think that Chris Davis’ retirement would bring me eternal joy.
You’d think that Davis’ decision, which the Orioles announced on Thursday, would be reason to celebrate. I mean, Davis’ seven-year, $161 million contract has largely been a disaster, and for an organization in full rebuild mode, getting that money off the books will go a long way.
You’d think that I’d be happy. But in reality, Davis’ retirement makes me quite sad.
I’m sad because from 2012 to 2016, Davis was a linchpin in the Buck Showalter run of success. After floundering in Texas for a few seasons, Davis emerged in Baltimore as one of the best power bats in all of baseball. Over those five seasons, Davis slugged 197 home runs and led the American League in bombs on two separate occasions.
His 53 homers in 2013 and 47 homers in 2015 not only led the junior circuit but enshrined Davis as one of the best power hitters to ever wear an Orioles uniform. His 53 homers in 2013 are also the most in Orioles’ history for a single season.
Davis was reliable and productive. His glove improved too in Baltimore, making him one of the best first baseman in baseball during that time span.
He was so productive that when it came time for extension talks, the organization decided to pony up. Prior to the 2016 season, the Orioles inked Davis to the largest deal in franchise history, securing his future in Baltimore. They even deferred $42 million after the length of his contract ends, keeping Davis on the payroll in some fashion through the 2037 season.
The thinking was that with Davis, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop, the Orioles’ lineup would be formidable for years to come. After letting Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis walk in free agency not long before this, the O’s were determined to keep their talent in house.
Davis’ fall from grace is well-documented. After the first season of Davis’ new deal, his OPS plummeted to .539. He lost an everyday role in 2019 and last season, Davis played 16 games without hitting a single home run. Since then, he’s been battling knee and back issues.
It would be easy to sling arrows at Davis, whose anemic production and monstrosity of a contract hindered the franchise for years. His deferred money will continue to hinder the franchise for the next decade-plus.
But instead of tearing down the man, I’ll remember Davis for the good times. I’ll remember his effortless power to all fields, his infectious smile and the incredible charity work that he’s done in Baltimore. Like Adam Jones, Davis made a concerted effort to become one with the community.
Most importantly, I’ll thank Davis for helping make it fun to be an Orioles fan for a small chunk of my adolescence. From 2012 to 2016, I was as proud as ever of my fandom, and Davis was a big reason why.
Davis won’t suit up for the Orioles ever again, which is a good thing. But it doesn’t mean that Davis’ retirement brings me joy. I feel sorrow for him, especially as tough as the last few seasons have been. Davis’ struggles cannot override the overwhelming impact that he made on the franchise and the fanbase.
So thank you, Chris, for all of the memories.
You’ll always be an Oriole.