We continue our plunge into the Detroit Tigers’ depth chart with the new acquisition from Toronto, Rajai Davis.
Name: Rajai Davis Position: Outfielder Bats: Right (Previously Switch) Throws: Right Previous Team: Toronto Blue Jays 2013 Stats: .260 BA / 6 HR / 24 RBI / .312 OBP 2014 Salary: $2,500,000
Speed, acceleration and more speed. Davis is known around the league as one of the fastest and most elusive baserunners. His dual threat of awareness on the basepath and ability to steal in nearly every situation adds a much-needed dimension on this square-wheeled Detroit team. Davis had 45 steals in the 2013 season, while the Detroit Tigers had a combined 35.
Davis has been all around the U.S. and back again in his seven years at the major league level. Davis first played for the Pirates in the east, went to San Francisco and Oakland in the west, was traded to Toronto, and finally ended up in Detroit.
If there is one negative to Davis’ style of play, it is his inconsistency at the plate. From a .305 average in 2009 to a .238 average in 2011, Davis will not break any records in Detroit with the bat. As with all new acquisitions to Detroit, Davis’ number may take a hit in the large field that is Comerica Park. However, the park may be where Davis will shine.
Andy Dirks is currently undergoing surgery that will put him out of the Tigers’ lineup for 12 weeks. Consider it good luck for Davis or bad luck for Dirks; either way, Davis won’t have to compete for the left field job come April 1. Davis will take control of left with Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter completing the outfield for Detroit–a very formidable one compared to years past. Jackson will have comfort protecting the gaps from doubles in left-center, since Davis and his speed will cover ground easily. He may also be able to give Jackson some days off in center when Dirks returns, reverting to his position in Toronto.
What to Expect
Davis becomes a threat for Detroit when he is moving his feet. It goes without saying Jose Iglesias and Davis will be trading pinch running roles in 2014. Tigers fans should look forward to another Jackson-esque player in the field with crazy speed on the basepaths. He’ll He will be a low to mid-.200’s in the box with 40+ steals. Ground balls hit by Davis with runners on rarely turn into double plays. Detroit was fourth in the league in 2013, grounding into an average of a double play per game. Davis is here to change that stat for the better.
Richie Cozzolino is host of Tiger Talk for Impact Sports.