On Rajai Davis

By Jason Wojciechowski on September 7, 2008 at 2:52 PM

You know why I love Rajai Davis? Because it proves that the A's aren't a team that "doesn't believe in stealing" or whatever gross overcharacterization is often put on them. They're just a team that doesn't believe in stealing unless the percentages are right. With Davis, the percentages are, in fact, right, so he runs wild. Davis has stolen 23 bases (and been caught six times, a 79% success rate) since coming to the A's. He's got 44 hits, seven walks, and 27 pinch-running appearances. So that is 78 times on base, of which he's attempted to steal 29 times. Given that some percentage of those times on base, he must be blocked, or have pinch-run at second in a close game (i.e. no stealing third allowed) or something like that, he's got to be stealing in something like 50% of the available situations, right? To steal that often and still make it nearly 80% of the time is pretty impressive, and means he'd be a nice guy to have off the bench for the next few years.

He's been hitting relatively well over the last few days as Bob Geren has installed him as the leadoff hitter and center fielder, and his batting average is about .275, but with an OBP under .310, that's not really the long-term spot for him. Although one wonders: he did walk 21 times in 210 plate appearances last year, split between San Francisco and Pittsburgh. And his minor league record is 246 walks in about 2700 PA's, which isn't great, but it's a higher rate than the eight in 190 PA's he's put up this year. He probably won't hit .305 like he did in the minors, but if he can hit .270, walk enough to get his OBP to .350, play good defense in center field, and steal bases, he can be this team's leadoff man. Remember, this is a guy the A's got for nothing from the least talented team in the league.