Could Chris Davis Succeed Playing in AT&T Park?


Earlier in the week, the San Francisco Giants “strong interest” in free agent slugger Chris Davis was revealed by ESPN’s baseball insider Buster Olney. That invariably raised a big question revolving around Davis: can a pure power hitter like him truly succeed in a big time pitcher’s park?

The possibility of the Giants signing Davis, as well as what that would mean for some current Giants, and the team’s free agent pursuits, has already been discussed on Golden Gate Sports here. Davis is a premier power hitter, the best on the free market right now. His 151 home runs over the past four years are the most in baseball, and only one player (Edwin Encarnacion, with 151) is within 20 of Davis’ total.

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Davis has had the luxury of playing each of those four years in a hitter’s park. The Baltimore Orioles’ home field, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, is the third-ranked hitter’s park in baseball, according to Park Factors. That helped him hit 53 home runs in 2013, and 47 home runs in 2015, both league-leading numbers. That piece of information right there is enough to make a lot of people balk. Davis hits a lot of home runs, but there’s no way he could have that same success in a pitcher’s park, like AT&T Park, right?

Well no, not necessarily. Using, a website that gives complete information on every home run hit, I broke down Davis’ longballs, and how he would have fared had he been hitting at AT&T Park in 2015.

The easiest thing to look at is what are considered “no doubt” home runs. The “no doubt” home run is defined as a home run that flies out of the park, clears the fence vertically by at least 20 feet, and lands at least 50 feet past the fence.  Davis hit 13 of those “no-doubters”, the fourth-most in baseball. There’s 13 home runs at AT&T Park right off the bat (no pun intended).

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Besides those 13, Davis hit six other home runs that would have been out of the park at any stadium in the game. That brings Davis’ home run total to 19, at the bare minimum, playing at any park in baseball.

Right field at Camden Yards is really quite similar to right field at AT&T Park. Both parks feature a high wall in straightaway right field, although the Giants’ park’s wall is 24 feet high, in honor of Giants’ legend Willie Mays, and reaches out into right-center field, forming Triples Alley. Oriole Parks’ wall is just a bit shorter, at 21 feet, and doesn’t reach as far as AT&T’s. Davis hit 16 home runs to what would be considered straightaway right field in 2015, and all but one of those would be home runs in San Francisco.

Right-center field is where some problems would arise for Davis in San Francisco, which really should not be surprising at all. Triples Alley, all 421 feet of it at the deepest part, is where home runs go to die, and Giants’ first baseman Brandon Belt can attest to that. On Davis’ longball spray chart, right-center field is as populated as straightaway right field, as he hit 16 into that area last year. Of those 16, seven would have been eaten up by AT&T Park’s spacious grounds. Nine would have still been out of the park, bringing his AT&T Park total from right-center to the right-field line to 24 home runs out of the 32 he hit last season. That total alone would have led the Giants.

Davis isn’t strictly a pull power-hitter, either. He hit five home runs to dead-center field, all of which would have been out of AT&T Park. There was, however, one wall scraper that would be right on the cusp of hitting the top of the wall. That brings his total to 29 home runs at AT&T Park.

From left-center field to the left field line, Davis hit 10 home runs in 2015. Of those 10, nine would have easily cleared the AT&T Park wall, landing a few rows deep into the bleachers. One would have fallen clearly short at the left field warning track. That leaves him with 38 home runs that would have been out of AT&T Park, out of the 47 he actually hit.

The average distance of a Davis home run in 2015 was 404.5 feet. The average distance of a home run hit by a Giants’ hitter at AT&T Park in 2015 was 397 feet, a full seven feet shorter than Davis’ average.

Davis is an extremely strong man, and he hits baseball like an extremely strong man. He has some of the easiest power in the game, as he hits home runs almost effortlessly. Last season against Oakland Athletics’ reliever Pat Venditte, Davis hit a walk-off home run on a 69-mph slider, way out of the strike zone, with one hand on the bat. He hit another home run earlier in that game, and A’s right fielder Josh Reddick didn’t even bother to go for the ball. Watch the highlight and be impressed.

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Granted, that second home run is almost assuredly not out of AT&T Park, but to have the pure, unadulterated muscle to hit that pitch out proves the ridiculous strength that Davis possesses. He has the type of power that will play at any park, and while his numbers would drop some in an extreme pitcher’s park, he would still be a premier power hitter in any lineup, the types of which the Giants haven’t had since Barry Bonds.

If that’s not enough, imagine Davis hitting at Coors Field nine or 10 times a year. That’s a scary thought.