That is the swing of a champion. If you were wondering…this pitch ended up in a bullpen. Photo: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
When Ben sent me my list of Brewers, there were two crown jewels. One of those will be saved for last, the other radiant diamond cut ruby engagement ring is Brewers outfielder Khris Davis.
I thought about acting like a prophet for this article and saying that I knew he would be this good, but that would not be fair to Khris Davis. Truth is, I had no idea what we would get out of Khris Davis. Didn’t know much about him. When he was initially called up, my soul was thrilled that Logan Schafer would get a little less playing time. Davis was a good minor league player, but he wasn’t a Top 10 Prospect (like Wily Peralta (1), Tyler Thornburg (2), Jimmy Nelson (5), and Scooter Gennett (8)) per Baseball America. The only thing that I honestly and genuinely knew of Khris Davis, was that he could hit for power. That’s it. Color me surprised if he didn’t become one of my favorite Brewers in 2013 (Yes, I used the expression “color me surprised”. It was the first and last time, my apologies.)
The purpose of this month long, site-wide project is to give these players grades. Since my mother is an educator and sculptor of young minds, I asked her how she would grade baseball players. She told me; Performance, Attitude, and “The Eye Test”. Just kidding…I made up those guidelines, because teachers can do whatever they want. And as a sports writer with no professional baseball experience, this is how I want to judge these players performance on the field. The way a good history teacher would tell you that Pearl Harbor actually happened and Batman was not there.
Ok, enough nonsense. Here is what I have to say about Khris Davis.
Performance – B+
The only thing that kept me from giving him an “A” was sample size. With only 136 at-bats to go off of it is hard to say that a guy played at an elite level, and in order to get an A in my class you have to be at an elite level. But let us be real with one another…the kid hit a home run every 10 at bats. This is a very cliche sports term, but Khris Davis was a spark plug for this team. Whether it was with his bat or on the base paths, the team seemed to play better ball when he was in the lineup. He started the season with the team (we went 7-7) and was sent down at the beginning of May. Davis was called back up to the Brewers on July 12th, made another 42 appearances and the team went 23-19. On the season, we were 4 games over .500 better with Davis on the roster. Which would put the team at 44-62 when Khris Davis was not on the field…I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’. In my humble and generally stupid opinion, Khris Davis needs to be an everyday player on this team. The signing of Nori Aoki for next season is a tactical move. I believe in my heart of hearts that he will be traded in 2014. Based on his performance on the field, I think Khris Davis will be our starting Right Fielder of the future. Or at least until someone better comes along…as is tradition.
Attitude – B+
I heard a lot of people ragging on Khris for his throwing arm not being strong enough. That never bothered me because the guy hustles and gives everything he has on the field. His glove is solid, his bat is powerful, and he is a threat on the base paths. If the only knock we have is on his arm, then his work ethic should make up the difference. He is friendly, well spoken, and seems to have nothing but love for Brewers nation. Again, his B+ grade is mostly due to sample size. Very few interviews and not a lot of sound bytes , so I have to go off of what I see on the field. Khris Davis goes hard. I like that in a ball player. He doesn’t play with that general malaise most MLB stars have today. I think that playing with guys like Segura and Gomez has probably helped him to learn and build confidence. Anyway, I like him and I like his attitude.
“Eye Test” – B+
The kid passes my eye test. When I watch him play, I never worry about him Kotsay-ing up the place. I have seen him play solid defense in Right Field, which is more than I can say for the half-decade we watched Corey Hart out there. It would be nice to see him cut down on the strikeouts, but I expect that from a power hitter. Look, here is what you need to know about Khris Davis…if we take his 136 at-bats and project a full season it would look like this: 32 HR, 78 RBI, .280 BA, .353 OBP, and (just for Curt) a .949 OPS. Those are the stats of a player I want starting on my team 5 days a week, not coming off of the bench and filling in on spot duty. If Ron Roenicke was smart, he would have figured this out a little sooner. The 2014 outfield should only have Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Nori Aoki, and Khris Davis. That is all you really need. I am that confident in what I have seen from Davis.
Overall Grade – A
I had a college professor who once told me that “consistent B work is A worthy”, so I am implementing that educational protocol. If you read this article, you know by now that I am smitten with Khris Davis. There is so much to like about what he brings to the bottom of this lineup. How could you not want a potential 30 HR guy batting in the 6,7, or 8 spot on your lineup? You would rather have Logan Schafer and his…3-5 HR’s, with a .220 batting average, and zero power? Ok, then good luck with your job search in 2015 Ron. The only negative thing I have heard about Khris Davis is that his throwing arm is weak. Well guess what? That is what the off-season is for. You can bet your bottom dollar that he is going to come out in Spring Training with an upgraded arm (My apologies again for this outdated turn of phrase…I just like trying on new things to see if they fit.). Believe me, you will not see many A’s out of me this month (if any).
I believe in