The A’s needed a proven center fielder after having traded both Billy Burns to the Kansas City Royals for Brett Eibner, and later trading Coco Crisp to the eventual American League Champion Cleveland Indians.
Both Crisp and Davis played in the World Series in 2016 for the Indians against the Chicago Cubs, and both made major contributions to the club taking the series to seven games and into extra innings.
Davis would have been the hero of the series had the Indians had gone on to win Game 7.
It was Davis who tied the game in the eighth inning, hitting a homer off of Cubs’ closer Aroldis Chapman, eventually sending the game into extra innings.
Now Davis will reunite with one of his former teams. He spent 2008 through 2010 playing center field for the Athletics.
Over his career Davis has a .267/.314/.387 slashline. So he shouldn’t help the A’s improve in an important area that they need to, on-base percentage.
However besides his lack of walks, Davis is the quintessential leadoff hitter. He’s quick, leading the league in steals with 43 in 2016 with Cleveland, and his overall stats have him hitting above average, although last year he hit a pedestrian .249.
Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians center fielder Rajai Davis (20) celebrates after hitting a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs in the 8th inning in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Davis showed power that he hadn’t in past seasons and not just in the World Series. He hit 12 homers during the regular season, four more than his highest ever total.
Another plus is that Davis knows the Coliseum. Being the only stadium left in baseball that is shared with an NFL team, the dimensions from the foul territory to the space in center field are quite different from other ballparks.
The A’s needed a centerfielder and one was out there, still an unsigned free agent, who knows the Coliseum, led the league in stolen bases last season and should be a very versatile player for the team as, if needed, he can play the entire outfield.
Rajai Davis, as I noted almost two weeks ago, will be a good fit for the Oakland Athletics and there are quite a few fans who are going to be happy to see the speedster back on Opening Day.