*Series Note: I will do baseball player report cards in the order of their number (from lowest, #2 Vaz, to highest, #99 Gonzo) over the next few months. Did I agree to this to mess with Tom for never finishing the basketball report cards? Yes. Did I expect him to then finish said basketball report cards, thus dooming me to do 43 of these? Also yes. Am I doing this because I suspect I will need to continually remind myself that baseball exists and will return during Vanderbilt feetball season? You make the call!
#3 Sr. OF Cooper “The Ontario Barrel-Maker” Davis
.248/.339/.294 with 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 13 RBI, and 3-6 Stolen Bases in 36 games played (109 AB).
Coming off a .331/.441/.421 sophomore season and .348/.416/.435 junior season, we expected big things from The Ontario Barrel-Maker in his senior year. In short, pragmatic expectations were for him to be an Ethan Paul or Stephen Scott type of senior for the 2021 Diamond Dores, though without the power. He was expected to be a tone-setter from the lead-off spot, an OBP machine, someone who gets in pitcher’s heads when on base, all with gold glove level defense in either CF or LF.
Again, those were not exactly unreasonable expectations given Davis’s career trajectory to that point.
Then, on the first game of the season on February 22nd against the Wright State Freds, in the first AB of the season, he fouled a pitch so hard into his face, I legitimately feared for his life.
In the Mail Bag following that series, commenter Force10JC asked, “I’ve heard of having a ‘nose for the ball’ but I don’t think a freak foul ball was what Cooper Davis had in mind. Is he going to be OK? How soon can he realistically be expected to return to the lineup?”
My response was as follows:
Yeah... I’ve never seen someone hit themselves in the face harder than that, and I used to watch Tommy Dreamer rassle in the ECW. I was certain that his orbital bone was now a pudding, but I’m hearing it’s just a broken nose and some stitches.
In short, I have no idea when The Ontario Barrel-Maker will return, but when he does, he’ll be wearing a full face cage. I suggest a goalie mask.
Davis, being a hockey-playing Canadian, rushed back likely too soon—from not just a physical health standpoint, but a mental health standpoint—as he played in the entire series against UIC on March 5th-7th, batting 2-11. Consider Simone Biles having to pull out of most events in Tokyo due to “the twisties”—when the gymnast is not entirely sure where their body is in the air, thus making competing terrifyingly dangerous—and then imagine hitting yourself square in the kisser at 100 mph+. Now try not to think about that when the next pitch comes your way.
I couldn’t do it. Not two weeks later, certainly.
By the end of the year, both Troy LaNeve and Javier Vaz had earned their split of the LF job. Davis would only get in for pinch running and late defensive replacement duties in the postseason. He would not get an AB.
Though Davis had an otherwise excellent Vanderbilt career, 2021 was a season to forget for the senior. And it’s completely understandable.
Grade: D+ (though not his fault).