Will KD Khrush Again?

One of the key questions coming into the season for the A’s was whether Khris Davis would return to form after a difficult 2019 season.

Whilst other hitters, both with the A’s and across the Majors, have started very slowly, KD’s struggles have been viewed in the context of a slugger who may be on the way down.

Bob Melvin started leaving him out of the line-up when a right-handed pitcher was starting, although he batted sixth against Zack Greinke last night.

We don’t know whether it’s a technical issue, a confidence issue, early-season rustiness or a combination of all three. However we can look at his performance in recent years to see if that offers any clues as to any changes that have come about.

This is KD’s spray chart from 2018.

The first thing that springs out is the distribution of home runs. He hit 48 in total and did so with an all-field approach rather than a traditional dead-pull slugger. I’ve included the grey outs in the chart as they also tell a tale about the approach: yes there are plenty of ground-outs to the left side of the infield, but the hits and outs are distributed across the field.

Comparing that to 2020 so far (up to and including August 7th) comes with the obvious caveat that there is a significant difference between plate appearances (649 in 2018, only 31 so far in 2020). Although we can’t draw any firm conclusions from the 2020 sample, we can at least comment on what it shows.

Short of one fly-out down the right-field line on an 0-1 fastball by the Angels’ Dylan Bundy, everything KD has made contact with has gone pull-side or centre.

The significant difference in pitch numbers between 2018 and 2020 so far makes it difficult to discern any meaningful change in how pitchers are pitching him (nothing glaring stands out when you look at the percentages). We can’t discount that as being a factor nor can we say that KD has really changed his approach either.

What we can say is that the ball isn’t pinging off his bat in all directions as we’ve been accustomed to seeing when he was at his peak. Figuring out the reasons why, and what can be done to change it, is going to be a key task for KD and hitting coach Darren Bush.

Leave a Reply