Chris Davis’ record-breaking slump is finally history. After going hitless in his final 21 at-bats of 2018, the Baltimore Orioles first baseman started the 2019 campaign 0-33. That’s 54 consecutive at-bats without a hit, exceeding the previous MLB record by eight at-bats.
During the Orioles’ Saturday victory over the Boston Red Sox, Davis snapped the streak with authority by going 3-5 with two doubles and four RBIs.
As odd as it may sound, every athlete can learn something from the demeanor and determination Davis displayed during his momentous slump. Instead of acting like “woe is me,” he focused on the positives.
“I feel like I’m seeing the ball a lot better,” Davis told ESPN after another hitless game last week. “I mean, I lined out again and drew a walk a little bit later. Just continue to work…For me I can’t focus on the result as much as I want to. As much as I want to see some type of return for all the work I’m putting in. I gotta stay focused on the process.”
Davis had to deal with some truly terrible luck during his slump. His line drive rate and hard contact rate so far this season are the highest they’ve been since he entered the league in 2008. He’s also been remarkably disciplined given the circumstances, as his O-Swing percentage (the percentage of pitches a batter swings outside the strike zone) is 26.1%. His lowest O-Swing percentage over a full season is 28.2%. For Davis to start the season 0-33 despite these figures takes a torturous level of tough luck.
But he controlled what he could control. He focused on putting together solid at-bats and generating good contact. He continued to arrive at the field early and put in the work to get better. He also didn’t allow his poor batting numbers affect the other facets of his game. He has yet to commit a defensive error so far this season, and by all accounts, he’s been a phenomenal teammate. Lesser players would’ve allowed the slump to drag down all aspects of their play and attitude, but Davis resisted.
“The way I carried myself, really for me, was really all I had a lot of times,” Davis told the Baltimore Sun after busting the slump. “Making sure that I didn’t hang my head, I didn’t give up, I didn’t give in, and I know the guys appreciate that. A lot of (them) have been vocal about it, and you’re not always going to be successful, especially in this game. A lot of times, it’s how you handle adversity. I’m proud of the way I battled, and I appreciate all the guys that have rallied around me.”
Props to Davis for handling a tough situation the right way and giving athletes everywhere a role model of how to act when your production isn’t what you’d like. It’s times like that which reveal a person’s true character.