April is now coming to a close, and it is relatively safe to say that one of the biggest surprises for the Detroit Tigers in the first month of the MLB season is the way that Rajai Davis has been performing up to this point. It appears that the 33-year-old may finally be coming into his own.
Originally signed as a platoon player this offseason, the injury to Andy Dirks created a window for Davis to run away with the left field job and he has essentially done just that. He is now batting .353/.416/.471 with two home runs, nine RBIs and eight stolen bases. With the exception of the stolen base total, there are not too many people who were predicting that Davis’ numbers would be where they are at right now.
Davis entered the season having only batted .252 over his past three seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, which was due in large part to his struggles against right-handed pitching in recent years.
In 2011, Davis hit just .221 against RHP. He was slightly better in 2012 at .243 but then fell back down to .228 against right-handers again last season.
Now, in 2014, Davis is batting .352 in 54 at-bats against righties. Although that is a relatively small sample size, it is certainly a good sign that he has come out swinging against RHP this season. Davis has always been a rather solid performer against left-handed pitching, which is evidenced by his .295 career average against LHP, and he has hit lefties to the tune of a .357 average this year.
Moreover, it is also very important to note that before going over to the Blue Jays in 2011, Davis actually hit .287 over 1,111 at-bats with the Oakland Athletics from 2008-10. During those days, he was also performing much better against RHP. He even batted .299 against righties in 2009 while posting an extremely impressive .305 batting average overall. It appears that he may have regained the swing that he had back then.
At any rate, Davis has performed well beyond the Tigers’ expectations so far this year. The Tigers most likely would have been happy if Davis was merely playing solid defense, stealing a few bases and hitting a few lefties. He has been proving, however, that he is capable of doing much more.