Wednesday, December 12, 2012

#268 Storm Davis - Baltimore Orioles

Rookie card alert! At one time Storm Davis was considered to be Jim Palmer's replacement as Baltimore staff ace. As such, Davis and this card was a big deal in 1983 or at least I thought so. He was likely only 20 when this picture was taken and his youthfulness is evident in the pictures below, especially the action shot.
Player: Storm Davis was taken by in the 7th round by the Orioles out of high school in 1979. Three years later he was called to Baltimore and toed the mound for the first time in late April. O's manager Earl Weaver used Davis in relief for 21 games and as a spot starter 8 times. Davis logged 100 innings, with a 3.49 ERA (116 ERA+) and closed out the year with a one run, six hit, complete game win over the Brewers.
After five relief appearances in April, Davis was in the rotation for the rest of the '83 season. Backed with a good offense, the team won 21 of his 29 starts with Davis credited with 13 victories. He doubled his inning output to 200 and posted a 3.59 ERA. He started game 4 of the ALCS against the White Sox and threw six shutout innings but did not receive a decision as neither team scored until the O's plated 3 in the top of the tenth and took the series. He also got the nod for Game 4 of the World Series and despite allowing three runs in five innings, he got the W. Baltimore eliminated the Philadelphia the next day and Davis was a World Champ at age 21.
Davis would have his finest year as a pro in '84. He began the year as the fifth starter but was a workhorse for the Birds as he hurled 225 innings including four straight complete games in July/August. His ERA was a crisp 3.15 (125 ERA+) and he allowed just 7 gopher balls, including a 113 inning homerless stretch. Despite his sparkling performance the O's offense scored over a run less for Davis than they had the year before, but he still won 14. He regressed in '85 to a 4.53 ERA and although he was more effective the following year, injuries limited him the just 25 starts.

The Orioles traded the young fireballer to the Padres after the '86 season was over for backstop Terry Kennedy and pitcher Mark Williamson. In San Diego, Davis was hit hard (6.18 ERA, 62 innings) but after he was dealt to Oakland, he pitched much better with a 3.26 ERA in 5 starts. Although he led the AL with 16 wild pitches in '88 as he was learning the forkball, he also won 16 games based on a decent 3.70 ERA and the potent A's offense. Davis was no longer pitching deep into games and completed just one of his 33 starts. He was ripped by the Dodgers in the World Series taking the loss in games 2 and 5.
Davis again completed just one start in '89 but won 19 games despite a 4.36 ERA (85 ERA+) and 1.506 WHIP. In the ALCS, Davis started and lost game 3 against the Blue Jays and was hoping to get off his three game postseason losing streak when he was named game 4 starter in the World Series versus the Giants. When the Loma Prieta earthquake hit prior to game 3 and delayed the series ten days, A's manager Tony LaRussa juggled his starters and had game 1 and 2 starters Dave Stewart and Mike Moore repeat as game 3 and 4 starters. The A's won the Series in four games and although Davis won his second championship, he was bitter about being passed over.
Anxious to go to a team that appreciated him as more than a back end of the rotation starter, Davis found his suitor in Kansas City. They lured him in with a 3-year/$6 million deal, which doesn't sound like a lot today, but in 1990 it made quite a splash. The issue was Davis' poor rate stats and lack of endurance, which seemed of little interest to the Royals. Defending the signing, KC pitching coach Frank Funk made the dubious statement "We don't want pitchers with good ERA's, we want pitchers with wins." Hoping for a repeat of his 19 win season the year before, his new team was severely disappointed. Davis had neither a surplus of wins nor a low ERA with as he won just 10 over the next two years with ERA's of 4.74 and 4.96.

The Royals dispatched Davis to his old stomping grounds in Baltimore in return for catcher Bob Melvin after the '91 season. Davis pitched in middle relief for the Orioles and did a fair job with 4 saves and a 3.43 ERA in 89 innings. Apparently he patched things up with A's manager LaRussa, because he signed with the A's as a free agent in '93. He struggled with injuries and was released after 45 runs in 63 innings in Oakland. Davis was picked up by Detroit where he spent the next year and a half pitching out of the pen. Although he was pretty good for the Tigers with ERA's of 3.06 and 3.56, he found little interest when the '95 season commenced. He pitched just five inning in the minors for the Reds and called it a career.
Stuff: Fastball low 90s, curve, forkball

Flipside: You think there will be any 19 year-olds throwing 187 innings any time soon like Davis did in '81?
Oddball: Glenn Davis is often cited as Storm's adopted brother. With the same last name I always assumed Glenn took the Davis name when he was adopted. Well it turns out Davis is Glenn's birth nameparents in high school but was never formally adopted.
History: Davis won 113 games in his career with a 4.02 ERA. He earned 15.1 WAR and won two World Series rings. Davis is now a minor league pitching coach.


  1. As a kid, always thought that Storm was a cool name. I wonder if he got teased a lot for it...

  2. I don't know if his peers teased him, maybe some older kids. At 6'4" as an adult he was probably a big kid and not one to mess with.