DAVIS CYCLE A REMINDER OF WHAT GOT AWAY

By:  Kurt Snyder

Saturday was a milestone day for the Tigers as they reached the half way point of the season.  They finish the first half a season high 5 games over .500.

It was also a milestone day for ex-Tiger, Rajai Davis.  Even though Cleveland failed to extend their 14-game winning streak, Davis completed  the cycle for the Indians.  It was the culmination of a great first half for the Indians and a very successful first half for Davis, whose production we came to love about him in Detroit has not dissipated.

I had 3 concerns in the off-season.  The same ones the Tigers had.  Prior to the signing of Justin Upton, the Tigers knew they needed starting pitching, relief pitching and outfield help.  And in October of last season, talk included how Davis would certainly not be brought back.

It was a pertinent discussion then and still is today.  Davis was a player I thought should be retained and I also felt the Tigers could improve their rotation and pen by bringing back both Joakim Soria and Doug Fister.   All known commodities.  All players who had success in Detroit.   None of whom were brought back.

As usual, we don’t want you to start a single morning without something to chew on from Totally Tigers.  Below is the blog written last October detailing my concerns about the assumed departure of Davis.

I have also included a link to a post also written in the off-season, a post discussing how both Soria and Fister could have helped the Tigers in 2016.   So enjoy your weekend and enjoy these posts from last fall.   Draw your own conclusions.


FROM OCTOBER 2015

If you have watched enough baseball, you are familiar with the basics required to win.

Strength up the middle defensively, good starting pitching, a reliable bullpen and role players who bring a skill set that can make a difference. The Tiger bench has been something less than productive in the past. We either lack offense, defense, or speed.

But the Tigers have done a good job over the last couple of seasons bringing in guys to improve the overall speed of the ball club.

In fact, at the beginning of the season when we added Cespedes, he brought the elements of both power and speed. And with his acquisition, the team could boast about a long list of players who could run and cause problems on the base paths.

Anthony Gose, Ian Kinsler, Andrew Romine, Joe Iglesias and Rajai Davis are players who still remain that gave the Tigers that much-needed dimension.

But after a disappointing season where the pitching, both in the rotation and the bullpen, was so poor and the areas that would garner the most attention in the off-season, the Tigers cannot afford to deplete an area of strength that is still a very important part of winning baseball.

As we run down the list of guys with expiring contracts and we tally up the money we could dedicate to addressing our pitching needs, Rajai Davis gets thrown into the discussion. And he happens to be someone pitchers had to pay the most attention to on the bases. He caused the most stress. He had the most speed.

So, the Tigers have to be careful that we do not deplete an area that has helped us win baseball games. And if we do indeed rob Peter to pay Paul, we need to make sure we pay Peter back.

Rajai Davis has been mentioned as a guy who may not return to the Tigers but I would be very careful before we give up someone who causes so much havoc on the base paths, even as he approaches 35 years old.

Davis can be retained as a relatively cheap platoon or bench player that gives the Tigers an extra outfielder who provides a threat when he plays. He’s a team guy, always has a smile on his face and seems genuinely happy to be playing in Detroit. I wouldn’t have a problem calling him a glue guy or a blue-collar performer, who does the little things that can help win ball games.

So as much as we need pitching, and we need a lot of it, the Tigers better keep the foot on the gas on the bases. The Tigers still have their fair share of guys who slow things down on the base paths. But they tend to make up for it by being the ones who drive in the most runs or regularly hit the ball out of the park.

But speed continues to be a valuable component in sports, including baseball, and the Tigers have worked hard to improve that element of their club. It can be very difficult to win games on nights when you are not hitting the ball out of the park. You have to be able to manufacture runs when you’re not hitting. So you need those players who find a way on base and can really make things happen with their legs.

Letting Rajai Davis go would not be the end of the world for the Tigers, just as long as they are filling his role with the same kind of skill set. But if he’s here already, just sign him.

Players have different specialties in baseball. They make teams because they can really play defense. They make teams because they provide the threat of power off the bench. And then there are players who make teams because they have incredible speed that can turn a single into a double or make pitchers nervous when they are on base.

So when you have that element on your team, make sure you keep it. Speed kills. It always has and always will.


Do you have more time?  I promised more!  https://totallytigers.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/are-reunions-a-good-idea/

 

10 thoughts on “DAVIS CYCLE A REMINDER OF WHAT GOT AWAY

  1. Tigers and Jays both had no idea how good a player this guy Rajai is unless you let him play and play every day. Not mad that the Tigers didn’t. I do not root for the Indians (don’t hate ’em though, they are really good) – but I will always root for Rajai. More valuable and a lot more affordable than Upton.

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  2. Rajai was a happy warrior. I was happy he hit for the cycle but wistful he didn’t do it as a Tiger. Kurt this post perfectly reflects the feelings of many of us. Your use of “speed kills” in the summation said it all. Outstanding!

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  3. Davis’ stats, post-AS Game 2nd half of ’15 (153 AB): .235/.265/.444/.710, 4/9 SB.
    Not bad for a 4th outfielder, but nothing to get too excited about either, so based on those numbers it isn’t a surprise they didn’t bring him back.

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  4. I can’t blame Tigers for moving on from a 35 year-old outfielder. Davis seems to be be some genetic freak though as don’t see many guys his age having career years. Either way without Davis the Tigers probably don’t go after Maybin and he’s been irreplaceable for Tigers this year.

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  5. I see a lot of comments here and on other Internet forums regularly lamenting the loss (or not re-signing) of Fister. I am not endorsing the original trade but am not surprised the Tigers did not sign him again given that there were implications he was not a good teammate.

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  6. A nice 4th OF and nothing more. The speed would have been nice but where would he play? Contrary to what some think, he is a bad LF and a terrible CF (of course at that position he would be a step up for this team until the end of the season when he will again slow down at the plate).

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  7. So many times this year, I wished we’d see Rajai put his running mitt on to steal some bases. An absolute elite base stealer and decent outfielder…..a gold glover compared to some of the OF plays we’ve had to endure this year. I can’t help but think his manager brings out the best Rajai has to give.

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