When Matt Davidson broke camp with the big league club after the conclusion of Spring Training many people were skeptical. After a somewhat impressive Spring Training the White Sox decided to give him a chance and on April 1st the team announced Davidson had earned a spot on the big league club.
The right-handed hitting Davidson played in 25 games in Spring Training and finished the exhibition schedule with a batting average of .241. With Todd Frazier plugged in as the everyday third baseman the backup spot landed squarely on the shoulders of Davidson. However, the White Sox were fortunate this season in that they had a few guys on the roster who could play multiple infield positions. Throughout the course of the season four different players started a game at third base, and six total played the position at some point. Not a “revolving door” necessarily but not a sign of consistency either.
Davidson had a hot April splitting time between third base, designated hitter, and a couple games at first base. He hit four home runs, drove in 14 runs, posted a batting average of .286, and a weighty BAbip of .400. I was one of a large group of Sox fans that wanted to see this kind of production rewarded with more regular playing time, especially when Todd Frazer finished the month of April with a .183 average Unfortunately it was all downhill from there as his batting average steadily declined. May saw .241, then .239 in June, .210 in July, .190 in August, and a dismal .163 to close out September. What started out as a hot campaign for the right-handed third-baseman ended up as just another typical season for a White Sox slugger.
After seeing guys like Mark Teahen and Jeff Keppinger at the hot corner over the last few years it was nice to see someone who had considerable offensive contributions, batting average aside. Closing out the year with 26 home runs, 68 RBI, and a slash line of .220/.260/.452 wasn’t ideal by any stretch of the imagination but it was better than we’d seen before.
Davidson’s defensive game was solid overall. Four errors in 153.2 innings at first base and three errors in 289 innings at third. There have been seasons in the past where I’ve had to look away any time a ball was hit towards third base but this year Sox fans didn’t have to be concerned, Davidson’s consistency with his glove and arm was very pleasant to watch.
Diving into his splits isn’t too telling, though one specific thing stood out to me. Davidson was noticeably better in games where the White Sox were winning than he was in games where the White Sox were losing. When the Sox were behind his batting average was .170, but when the Sox were ahead his average was .283 – over 100 points better. For a quick comparison the ahead/behind differential for Jose Abreu was .335/.277. Does that mean anything? Probably not. Who doesn’t like winning?
If I was grading just on April alone I’d give Davidson a high mark. In fact you know what? He gets an A for his April performance. There, I did it. Unfortunately his steady decline over the course of the season hurt his grade in my book. If his April production, or something similar, carried him all the way through the year we could have been looking at a historic year for a White Sox third baseman. Unfortunately it never works out that way.
Matt Davidson final grade: C+