A National League Cy Young winner didn’t bring any magic to Kansas City.
Fans more familiar with the Royals’ present than their past may think of one of the organization’s pitching coaches when they hear Mark Davis’ name. For many years a tutor of young pitchers hoping to someday pitch in Kauffman Stadium, Davis will start the 2022 season coaching for KC’s Arizona Rookie League affiliate in Surprise.
Kansas City baseball history buffs also remember Davis as the National League Cy Young Award-winning reliever who seemed destined to dominate the American League when he joined the Royals in 1990.
Paid $13 million to pitch four years for Kansas City, Davis was never what he was when he saved a major league-leading 44 games for San Diego the year before. He was ineffective after saving the Royals’ first three wins and ultimately forfeited the closer’s role to future club Hall of Famer Jeff Montgomery. His ERA exploded to 5.11 (it was 1.85 in 1989 and 2.01 in 1988) and he walked 52 batters in 68.2 innings.
Davis had started from time to time early in his career; hoping to turn him around, the Royals used him in the rotation occasionally in 1991 and ’92, but nothing they or he tried restored him to Cy Young form. Despite going 6-3 in 1991, his control problems continued and, after he stood 1-3 with a 7.13 ERA after 13 appearances in ’92, the club traded him to Atlanta.
Sadly, Davis never found success again and threw his last big league pitch in 1997.
Fortunately, however, he’s since made, and continues to make, solid contributions to the Kansas City organization.