Roster Recap: Rajai Davis Was Here

In the 2016 World Series, Rajai Davis hit one of the most improbable home runs I’ve ever seen in my life. The owner of 55 career home runs across 1,204 games at the time, Davis somehow smacked one deep off of human baseball cannon Aroldis Chapman to tie the game for the Indians in the eighth inning. It was the first home run of his postseason career.

We all know how this game turned out for the Indians. Two innings later, as Kris Bryant recorded the final out in the bottom of the 10th inning, Davis’ finest moment crumbled into cruel, false hope — a historical footnote, rather than postseason legend. It really was a ridiculous home run, though.

It was the most interesting thing that has happened in Rajai Davis’ MLB career, but the truth is that Rajai Davis just isn’t a very interesting baseball player. He’s made a career out of being not terrible, but also not great. Just useful. That season with the Indians wasn’t the best overall season of Davis’ career — his 3.4 fWAR campaign with Oakland in 2009 dramatically outstrips it — but he smacked a career-high 12 regular season homers across from 43 stolen bases and maintaining generally positive performance in the outfield. His .302 wOBA wasn’t anything to write home about, but his overall package made him a fine, if replaceable, starter.

Davis opened last season in an anonymous Athletics lineup that consisted of Jed Lowrie and some kids. He didn’t hit particularly well, but he made it up by being a negative in the outfield and falling off as a baserunner. After Jackie Bradley Jr. sprained his thumb, the Red Sox traded 18-year-old Rafael Rincones (who wasn’t a top-30 guy in the farm system) for him.  Now, I’m tasked with writing something interesting about the decisively uninteresting Rajai Davis and his decisively uninteresting Red Sox tenure.

With that in mind, here is every single game of Rajai Davis’ legendary Red Sox career. We have been blessed by his presence, and I shall never forget it.

Game 1: Red Sox 6, Indians 13

Rajai Davis: 0-1, K

Rajai Davis’ Red Sox debut came in a time of crisis, down seven runs as Mookie Betts exited the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with a sore knee. His only opportunity to hit would come in the top of the 9th. He struck out looking. You’ll get ‘em next time, champ.

Game 2: Red Sox 3, Orioles 16

Rajai Davis: 1-4

The first start of Rajai Davis’ Red Sox career would come at home against the Orioles. Playing centerfield in relief of the injured Jackie Bradley Jr., Davis batted eighth in the order and was quite a bit more active. Davis singled in the bottom of the fifth off Jeremy Hellickson. The stress of Davis’ presence on first base must have been too much for Hellickson, as he would threw a wild pitch two batters later and allow Davis to take second. Unfortunately, that batter was the fan who pretended to be Brock Holt all of last season, and he would ground out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, Davis’ tremendous offensive pressure would allow him to take a base yet again — shortstop Tim Beckham, fearful of his raw speed, committed a throwing error to first, leaving Davis safe. Davis would claim second once again on a fielder’s indifference. It’s not like catcher Welington Castillo had a prayer of throwing out Rajai Davis anyways.

The Red Sox would lose by 13.

Game 3: Red Sox 1, Orioles 2

Rajai Davis: 1-4, K, CS

After a well-earned night off for his tremendous exertion in the first Baltimore game, Rajai Davis – Mr. Consistency, you could call him – went 1-of-4 against the Orioles once again. He reached on an infield single in the bottom of the fourth inning, but was caught stealing. Hubris defeats even the greatest of us.

Game 4: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

Rajai Davis: 2-4, 2 R, 2 SB

Spoiler-alert: this is Rajai Davis’ greatest game in a Boston uniform — he picked up 22 percent of his total hits with the Red Sox in this game, as well as 66 percent of his stolen bases. Davis singled in the top of the sixth and eighth innings, and each time stole second before coming around to score. He also hit leadoff, because 2017 John Farrell deployed lineups as his own form of abstract art.

Game 5: Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 1

Rajai Davis: 0-4, BB, 3 K

For the sake of Rajai Davis, we won’t discuss this game. We have to respect our living legends.

Game 6: Red Sox 2, Yankees 6

Rajai Davis: 0-3, 2 K

Another bump in the road to baseball immortality for Rajai Davis, who suffered the ignominy of being subbed out for the impostor wearing Brock Holt’s skin after two strikeouts. This was also the game where C.C. Sabathia got mad at the Red Sox for bunting once. Fun times.

Games 7-13:

Rajai Davis: 0-5, 2 K, R

With Jackie Bradley returned from the disabled list, Rajai Davis was relegated to the bench. Over this stretch of time — roughly half of September — Davis primarily appeared as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. He did not record a hit or a stolen base. Scored a run, though!

Game 14: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 9

Rajai Davis: 1-1, 2B, RBI, R

Woah! Rajai Davis extra base hit! Davis showcased his clutch gene in this game, pinch-hitting in the bottom of the eighth inning down seven runs and helping spark a Sox rally. Davis doubled home Chris Young and blazed in a run of his own off a single from Hanley Ramirez. Those would be the last Red Sox runs of the game, however.

Fun fact: Rajai Davis’ wRC+ for this game was 718. Mike Trout’s career wRC+ is 169. Get bent, Mike.

Game 15: Red Sox 10, Blue Jays 7

Rajai Davis: 2-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, SB

Rajai Davis’ Power Explosion continued into the following day, as Davis would blast another double against Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada and his formidable 4.98 ERA. This was a showcase of the all-around package we’ve come to expect from Rajai Davis year-in and year-out: two runs, an RBI, a stolen base, and an extra base hit.

Game 16: Red Sox 2, Astros 3

Rajai Davis: 1-3, K, R

Game 17: Red Sox 3, Astros 4

Rajai Davis: 1-4, K

The final three games of Rajai Davis’ storied Red Sox career would happen to come against the Houston Astros. The first two came in the final series of the regular season, and saw Davis pick up a base hit in each. You could say this made him something of an Astro-killer. It might not be true, but you could say it.

Game 18: Red Sox 2, Astros 8

Rajai Davis: 0-0

Shockingly, the Red Sox did not give Davis or his career playoff line of .175/.209/.275 much of an opportunity in October. Davis made his only appearance of the series in the second game in relief of Mookie Betts in right field, when Betts tweaked his wrist in the eighth inning. Davis did not hit a dramatic home run, and in fact, did not even record a plate appearance. Thus ended his Red Sox career. We shall never see his like again.

What Went Right:

The Red Sox brought Rajai Davis in to fill an outfield spot while Jackie Bradley Jr. recovered from a sprained thumb. He may have hit terribly, graded negatively in the field, and only swiped three bases, but he was undeniably very good at existing. So, there’s that.

What Went Wrong:

Rajai Davis did not hit for the cycle even a single time.

What to Expect:

At some point, a team will decide they need somebody to run a whole bunch. Rajai Davis will heroically answer the call.

Photo by Kevin Sousa — USA TODAY Sports

Related Articles

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username