Blue Jays 2011: Rajai Davis

24 12 2011

I was looking up Rajai Davis’s stats today, and I noticed something interesting: while he can hit left-handed pitchers, he can’t steal bases off them. Against southpaws, Davis had a respectable .367 on-base percentage (admittedly, in only 80 at-bats), but he was only 5 for 10 in steals. Against right-handers, Davis’s on-base percentage was a miserable .239 – but he was 29 for 35 in stolen bases.

I was curious, so I looked up a couple of other people who are good base stealers to see what their percentages were. Brett Gardner, who was 49 for 62 in steals overall, was a respectable 9 for 13 against lefties. Matt Kemp, who was 40 for 51 as a base stealer, was 8 for 10 against lefties. And Michael Bourn, who stole 61 of 75 bases, was 18 of 25 against left-handers. So either Davis was very unlucky, or he just isn’t as good at stealing bases against left-handers as other fast runners are. And if you can’t hit righties, and you can’t steal against lefties, there’s not much you can do.

Still, I can’t help but think that Davis was born too late. In an era where teams carried only 9 or 10 pitchers, and had room for more extra men, Davis could have been the 25th man on the bench, inserted only in situations that best suited his abilities. And it’s not like he can’t do anything: he’s one of the few men fast enough to be able to steal a base even though everyone in the ballpark knows that he’s going. He would have done well with an Earl Weaver team: Weaver would have kept index cards that would have told him exactly what pitchers Davis could hit, and Davis would have thrived. Oh, well – some things are beyond human control.




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