Chris Davis set the major league record for the longest hitless streak by a position player, going 0 for 47 during an unproductive run that began last year.
Baltimore’s highly paid first baseman was retired in his first three trips to the plate Monday night against Oakland, leaving him hitless in 26 at-bats this season. Combined with his 0-for-21 finish last year, Davis broke the mark previously held by Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Eugenio Velez for the lengthiest run of futility by a non-pitcher, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Velez went hitless in 46 straight at-bats, his last nine of the 2010 season and then 0 for 37 in 2011, the last of his five major league seasons. That enabled him to eclipse the previous longest hitless streak, shared by Pittsburgh’s Bill Bergen (1909), Dave Campbell of San Diego and St. Louis (1973) and Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell (earlier in 2011).
The dubious record now belongs to Davis, who batted .168 last year — the worst batting average in major league history for a qualified player.
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Davis is in the fourth season of a $161 million, seven-year contract.
The 33-year-old has two RBIs this season — on a bases-loaded walk and a forceout. He’s struck out 13 times.
On Monday, he lined out to right field in the second inning against Marco Estrada and matched the record hitless streak in the third with an opposite-field fly to left. Before the record-tying out, Davis got a second chance when second baseman Jurickson Profar dropped his foul pop to right.
Batting against Yusmeiro Petit in the fifth, Davis set the record with a hard-hit fly to the edge of the left-field warning track.
Manager Brandon Hyde was asked before Monday’s game whether he considered resting Davis rather than insert him in the lineup against Estrada.
“He really wanted to play today,” Hyde said.
Davis entered hitting .167 (6 for 36) with three homers against Estrada.
Hyde has done his best to be patient with Davis.
“I was hoping he’d get off to a good start and he would play well early and hit,” Hyde said. “I’m pulling for him. I’m trying to put him in position for success and I talk to him a lot. He’s up front with it.”
Davis has been getting booed by the home fans after his strikeouts.
“Fans are welcome to handle situations the way they want to,” Hyde said. “Unfortunately, it’s hard to listen to for me.”