In 2015, much of the power in the Houston Cougars lineup came from Chris Iriart. His 15 home runs were more than one-third of the team’s total figure, and his 14 doubles were three more than anyone else on the team. With that type of power, it was no surprise that he drew significant interest from pro scouts, and after the season, he signed with the Oakland Athletics as the team’s 12th-round draft pick.
Given the hole left in the lineup by Iriart’s imposing figure, there was some concern about where power production would come from, but freshman Joe Davis immediately stepped in and allayed those fears.
The Austin, Texas, native put together a .331/.383/.577 slash line with 17 doubles, 14 home runs, and 58 RBI. He also struck out just 22 times in 239 at-bats, showing advanced plate discipline for a freshman. There was some symmetry with Iriart’s 2015 season as well. Davis’ 14 homers were more than one-third of the team’s total of 37 and his 17 doubles were three more than the next-highest total on the team, 14 for Connor Wong.
While we’re at it, his 58 RBI were 25 more than the second-highest total on the team and his slugging percentage was 138 points higher than the next-best figure, the .439 put up by Wong and Corey Julks.
The Cougars will need him in a big way in 2017 as well, as much of their roster from a year ago turned over after a disappointing season that saw the team miss out on the postseason. Wong, Julks, and Connor Hollis are back to help Davis out, but other than that, there are going to be a lot of new faces in the UH lineup.
At first glance, it would seem unlikely that Davis could up his game even more, given how successful he was in his first season at the Division I level, but then again, it seemed unlikely that a freshman could replace the production of a player like Chris Iriart, and we saw how that played out.