Sunday brought the Oakland A’s final game of the 2018 season, and Khris Davis went 0-for-2. Normally that would be a disappointing performance, but in this case it sealed one of the best statistical oddities in recent memory. Davis finished the summer hitting .247, making it four straight years that he’s carried that exact batting average.
There is a case to be made that Davis is the most consistent hitter in MLB history. Back in July, Michael Salfino and Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight found that no other player had held their average so steady over a five-year span, with Norichika Aoki being the closest. Prior to his string of .247 campaigns, Davis batted *gasp* .244 in 2014.
Of course, Khrush’s stability goes further than just his average. He’s also a reliable home run hitter, having swatted at least 40 in each of the last three seasons. He led MLB in that category this summer with 48, and he also has the most in the sport over the last three years combined. Even in 2015, when he missed a month to a torn meniscus, he was on a full-season pace for 39 thanks to launching 21 after the All-Star break.
Here’s a look at Davis’ numbers over the last four years.
Overall he’s seen gradual improvement, mostly because his power has increased each summer. After his 27 homers for the Brewers in the injury-shortened 2015, he went 42, 43, and 48 for Oakland, and his isolated slugging has risen accordingly each time. However, despite that development, as well as fluctuations in his walk rate and OBP, he somehow winds up with the same average each year. His career mark is .248, in over 3,000 plate appearances.
Even in each half-season there is little variation in his average. Granted, the All-Star break isn’t the literal halfway point of the campaign, but this is still uncanny. It’s never gone more than five points in either direction.
|Year||1st half||2nd half|
There are extra nuggets of consistency within those four seasons beyond just batting average. In the first two years he posted identical wRC+ marks, and in the last two campaigns he finished with differences of just two hits, 10 at-bats, and two plate appearances, with precisely 28 doubles each time (after 24 in 2016). Only in 2017 did his strikeout rate stray (27.7%, 27.2%, 29.9%, 26.7%).
Statcast also sees the same story over and over. Davis has barreled the ball around 17% of the time each of the last three years, and since coming to Oakland his average exit velocity has stayed within spitting distance of 92 mph. His xwOBA was exactly .394 each of the last two summers.
Whichever way you slice it, Khris Davis is indeed the most consistent hitter in baseball, definitely in the present day and possibly in all of history. At this point he is a lock to bat .247 and smash at least 40 dingers, and as a 30-year-old designated hitter there’s no particular reason to expect him to slow down anytime soon. I think all of Athletics Nation will join me in this chant: Four More Years! (Or at least three with an option.)