George Earl "Storm" Davis was born on December 26, 1961 in Dallas. Other MLBers born the day after Christmas include Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk and Ozzie Smith, along with the immortal Mario Mendoza.
He grew up in Jacksonville and his parents adopted Glenn Davis, who had played ten years in the majors and made two All-Star teams.
Both Storm and Glenn attended University Christian High School, where their father George was the athletic director. Both Davis boys were chosen by the Orioles in the 1979 draft. Storm went in the seventh round, the same one as Von Hayes and Craig Lefferts, and signed that year. Glenn went in the 31st round, but didn't sign. He chose to attend the University of Georgia, then Manatee Community College, making himself the fifth-overall pick by the Astros in 1981.
Storm began his climb to Baltimore in 1979 with Bluefield. He made ten starts and went 4-4 with a 3.88 ERA while allowing only 44 hits in 58 innings. Over the next three seasons from 1980-82, he moved up to Miami, then Charlotte, then Rochester. He was called up to Baltimore for his big league debut on April 29, 1982. It was a 6-6 game at home against Oakland and he inherited a bases loaded, no out jam in the ninth from Tippy Martinez. He gave up a sac fly, wild pitch and single to score three runs and the A's won it.
Davis was sent down afterwards, but made it back to the majors in mid-May. He went 8-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 games (eight starts). The Orioles battled Milwaukee for the Eastern Division crown in '82 and hosted the Brew Crew for the final four games needing a sweep.
The O's won the first game and Davis pitched a complete-game six-hitter in the second. Baltimore won an 11-3 rout on the second-to-last day of the season to pull both teams into a 94-67 tie. However, Milwaukee won behind Don Sutton in the finale 10-2 and Harvey's Wallbangers were playoff bound.
Baltimore bounced back in 1983 and won the division. At age 21, Davis reached the 200-inning mark and posted a 13-7 record. Here are the last six seasons of 200 innings and a 110 ERA+ by a pitcher 21 or younger:
It hasn't happened since 1991 and there have only been two age 21 pitchers to throw 200 innings in the two decades since. CC Sabathia worked 210 innings of league-average pitching for the 2002 Indians and Madison Bumgarner tossed 204.2 innings in 2011 for the Giants, just missing the cutoff with a 109 ERA+.
In his first postseason in '83, Davis got the Game Four start against Chicago with a chance to clinch the pennant. He worked six scoreless innings of five-hit ball, matching zeroes with Britt Burns. The O's finally broke a scoreless tie in the tenth with three runs against Burns and claimed the AL crown.
The Game Four start in the World Series against the Phillies belonged to Davis as well. He allowed three runs in five innings and picked up the victory that gave the O's a commanding 3-1 lead. They clinched the championship the following night and Davis had himself a World Series ring at 21.
1984 was probably Davis's best season. He registered a 3.12 ERA that was the seventh-best in the American League and his innings total (225) and ERA+ (125) were career bests. He finished ninth in the league in complete games (ten) and shutouts (two). He kept the ball in the yard, allowing only seven homers for a league-leading 0.28 HR/9 IP rate.
Over the next two seasons, he went 19-20 with an average 4.10 ERA. After the '86 season, Davis was dealt to the San Diego Padres for catcher Terry Kennedy and reliever Mark Williamson.
1987 was a disaster for Davis and the Padres as he put up a 6.18 ERA and 2-7 record in 62.2 innings before he was sent to the Oakland Athletics for Dave Leiper and Rob Nelson in August. Those two didn't do much in San Diego and the trade worked out well as Davis and the A's won pennants in both of Storm's seasons in Oakland.
He had a 3.26 ERA in five September starts in '87 and went 16-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 1988. He did well despite issuing the fifth-most walks in the league (91) and uncorking the most wild pitches (16). Still, he recovered from his Padres setback and was named American League Comeback Player of the Year.
Davis started Game Two of the ALCS against Boston, allowing only two unearned runs in six and one-third innings. Oakland swept their way to the World Series and were heavy favorites against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After Kirk Gibson's stunning Game One homer, Davis was roughed up for six runs in three and one-third innings in Game Two, taking the loss. In Game Five, Davis allowed four runs and didn't get out of the fifth as Orel Hershiser beat him for the second time to clinch the title and surprising upset.
Davis had an odd year in 1989. He won a career-high 19 games despite a 4.36 ERA that gave him a poor ERA+ of 85. He benefited from great run support, as the Bash Brothers scored six or more runs for him in 13 of his 31 starts.
Here are the lowest ERA+ seasons among those who won 19 or more games:
These are all 19-game winners with a winning percentage over .650 and a below-average ERA+:
Teammate Dave Stewart won 21 games and Mike Moore won 19 to match Davis. They were the first trio of teammates since the 1973 A's (Vida Blue, Ken Holtzman, Catfish Hunter) to win 19+ games. Bob Welch won 17 in 1989 making them one of two quartets in the last 40 years to win at least 17 apiece. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Kevin Millwood all reached 17 for the 1998 Braves.
The A's reached the World Series again in '89 and faced their Bay Area neighbors, the Giants. Stewart and Moore pitched the A's to victories in the first two games. The Loma Prieta earthquake hit the Bay Area moments before Game Three was to be played at Candlestick Park. After the tragedy, the Series was delayed by commissioner Fay Vincent for five days, then another five.
The third game was played ten days after the quake, with Stewart and Moore getting starts again ahead of Welch and Davis. Davis was upset with manager Tony LaRussa about the switch. Oakland rolled to a sweep to win their last world title.
A free agent after winning his second ring, he signed a three-year, $6 million contract with the Kansas City Royals. Davis struggled to a 4.85 ERA in two seasons before being traded to Baltimore for catcher (and current A's manager) Bob Melvin.
He split the next three seasons in the bullpen for the Orioles, A's and Tigers. From 1992-94 he posted a 103 ERA+ and averaged 78 innings a year.
Davis called it a career in '94 and retired with a 113-96 record and 4.02 ERA (99 ERA+). His numbers are similar to All-Time Bluefield #4 starter Pete Harnisch and although he's not on the list of Davis's ten closest comps, they share both Steve Stone and Jim Bibby.
Davis got into coaching after his playing career ended, as the head baseball coach at the Bolles School in Jacksonville (Chipper Jones' alma mater) from 1997-2001. He returned to Bolles from 2008-10 and won two Class 3A state championships. He joined the Texas Rangers organization in 2011 as the pitching coach with the low-A Hickory Crawdads. With Davis guiding the young Crawdad hurlers, Hickory finished fifth in the 14-team South Atlantic League in 2011. He's in the middle of the his second season with the 'Dads and the Rangers certainly have a ton of promising pitching prospects.
With Davis rounding out the rotation, the starting staff and bullpen are now complete. The rotation features a Cy Young winner in Dean Chance, strong two and three guys in Mike Boddicker and Bill Monbouquette and a solid back end in Pete Harnisch and Davis.
The average career bWAR for those five is 22.8, the same exact total as Mike Flanagan and Dave Stewart. If you take the three best seasons for each and average their bWAR, it's 4.4, which was tallied by C.J. Wilson last year and CC Sabathia and David Price in 2010. Their five-year average is 3.6, which is still good and the same total as Justin Masterson's last year.
Here are the five rotation members with their career bWAR, along with the average of their best three-year and five-year stretches in bWAR and their career ERA+:
|SP 1||Dean Chance||32.3||6.7||5.4||119|
|SP 2||Mike Boddicker||29.1||4.8||4||108|
|SP 3||Bill Monbouquette||20.7||4||3.6||104|
|SP 4||Pete Harnisch||16.9||3.3||2.5||103|
|SP 5||Storm Davis||15.1||3.2||2.7||99|
That doesn't knock your socks off, but you'd be surprised how good that is. I looked up teams that had four qualifying starters with an ERA+ between 103 and 119:
|1||2011||NL||Milwaukee Brewers||4||Yovani Gallardo / Zack Greinke / Shaun Marcum / Randy Wolf|
|2||2003||NL||Atlanta Braves||4||Mike Hampton / Greg Maddux / Russ Ortiz / Horacio Ramirez|
|3||1991||AL||Seattle Mariners||4||Erik Hanson / Brian Holman / Randy Johnson / Bill Krueger|
|4||1976||NL||Los Angeles Dodgers||4||Burt Hooton / Tommy John / Rick Rhoden / Don Sutton|
|5||1962||NL||San Francisco Giants||4||Juan Marichal / Billy O'Dell / Billy Pierce / Jack Sanford|
|6||1960||AL||New York Yankees||4||Art Ditmar / Whitey Ford / Ralph Terry / Bob Turley|
|7||1948||AL||Philadelphia Athletics||4||Lou Brissie / Joe Coleman / Dick Fowler / Carl Scheib|
|8||1933||AL||Boston Red Sox||4||Lloyd Brown / Hank Johnson / Gordon Rhodes / Bob Weiland|
|9||1926||NL||Cincinnati Reds||4||Pete Donohue / Dolf Luque / Carl Mays / Eppa Rixey|
|10||1910||NL||Brooklyn Superbas||4||Cy Barger / George Bell / Nap Rucker / Doc Scanlan|
Eight of those ten had winning records (minus the '33 Red Sox and '10 Superbas) and the ten clubs combined to finish 162 games above .500, which would be 89-73 over a 162-game season. There are two pennant winners and four playoff teams in that group.
The bullpen is outstanding with Sparky Lyle closing and Armando Benitez, Arthur Rhodes, Jim Johnson and Sammy Stewart setting up. Ken McBride and Tom Phoebus had solid average careers and are in there as middle relievers, but I'll be looking at the top five in examining the pen.
The average career bWAR for Lyle, Benitez, Rhodes, Johnson and Stewart is 14, the same as Randy Myers and within one win of Robb Nen, Steve Bedrosian and Octavio Dotel. The average three-year bWAR is 2.8, the same as Mike Adams had last year. The average five-year bWAR is 2.3, the same as the 2011 total for Craig Kimbrel and John Axford. The average career ERA+ of 126 is equal to that of Jesse Orosco and Bob Wickman and a point better than that of Brad Lidge, Mike Timlin, Duane Ward and Dick Radatz.
The pitching staff is a good one, with its strength being the back end of the bullpen. It's been fun putting these together and learning about some of the former Bluefield players that did well in the major leagues.
|SP 1||Dean Chance|
|SP 2||Mike Boddicker|
|SP 3||Bill Monbouquette|
|SP 4||Pete Harnisch|
|SP 5||Storm Davis|