Chris Davis fantasy MVP among hitters 

September, 27, 2013
Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and his sore right foot got the day off Thursday against Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle, but fantasy owners can’t complain about a season’s worth of surprising production. Davis, a 15th-round choice in ESPN average live drafts, enters the final weekend of the season with a MLB-leading 52 home runs, the only impediment to Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera perhaps earning his second consecutive Triple Crown (the two are tied with 137 RBIs). However, Cabrera was the first overall pick in most leagues, so congrats to Davis for taking home fantasy MVP honors among hitters, as he provided incredible value.

Chris Davis
Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesChris Davis provided tremendous value and brought many smiles to those who owned him in fantasy.
Davis always had noteworthy power, but not this much. He still swings and misses at many a pitch and could top 200 strikeouts this weekend, but he has raised his walk rate and hit a lot more fly balls, and a lot of them have left ballparks. If you had told me in March that Davis was more likely to reach 50 home runs or flirt with a .300 batting average much of the season, I would have taken the power. It’s unique for anyone who strikes out in nearly a third of at-bats to hit for a high batting average; of the top 15 in strikeouts, three aren’t even hitting .200. Davis is the only one hitting .270 (he’s at .285, with a .265 career mark). Still, ESPN Fantasy had him pegged at 31 home runs and 83 RBIs. Davis had those numbers by mid-July.

There’s an old saying that fantasy baseball leagues aren’t won by first-round picks like Cabrera and Mike Trout, but by the mid-round picks that blossom into superstars. Davis should be a first-rounder in 2014 drafts, and while I tend to devalue first basemen some, and remain a tad worried about batting average, it’s tough to argue. The guy has 52 home runs! He and Cabrera are the only ones with more than 36. It’s a large differentiator. Davis should return to Baltimore’s lineup this weekend and finish his amazing campaign among the top five on ESPN’s Player Rater. Last year he was No. 104. That’s value. Others high on the value list for fantasy hitter MVP are Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (stolen base champ), Milwaukee Brewers Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence, St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter and Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson.