Amidst the Athletics' sea of disappointments this season, there have been a few lonely islands of goodness, most notably: the bullpen generally; and Rajai Davis and rookie pitcher Brett Anderson, specifically. Davis struggled terribly in the first half, but since the All-Star break he's hitting .369/.440/.569 in 23 games, which is enough to boost his season numbers well past mere respectability.
Can he stay there? That's what Athletics Nation's Nico wants to know:
- Now that he is getting regular playing time, has more leeway to make a mistake here or there without it being magnified, and is playing with more confidence -- and I think as a result, more calm -- Rajai Davis is playing far better. He won't, of course, be able to sustain the .333 batting average, or the 1.000 OPS, he has put up during this reign of terror. The question is: If he can calm down and just play with confidence, to what level can he regress?
Is Rajai a late bloomer -- a guy who has finally calmed down and harnessed his ability -- or is he a one-month wonder whose deal with the devil to channel Rickey for 30-days is about to expire? I am pretty sure the guy can run down fly balls just like he's been doing lately -- that what he did in April and May was the outlier -- and that as a baserunner he will do you far more good than harm. The answer to the question lies, IMO, in the answer to the singular question: When Rajai regresses to the production he can maintain, can he get on base 34% of the time?
Over 659 plate appearances in the majors, Davis has a .330 on-base percentage. No, that's not 34 percent but it's close enough. In almost exactly the same number of plate appearances (656) in Triple-A, Davis has a .353 on-base percentage.
So, we may safely assume that he can get on base 34 percent of the time. Roughly speaking.
Is that good enough? Perhaps. Davis has little power and will always have little power. But he does run the bases effectively and he does play well in center field. Oh, and of course he's super cheap. For Davis, the problem is that he's probably not a late bloomer; he just happens to be getting his chance at a typically blooming point in a player's career.
Right now, Davis is good enough to play regularly. He and the A's need to milk this moment for all its worth. Because a year or three from now, he'll once again be a fourth outfielder.