Red Sox: What outfielder Rajai Davis brings to the table

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 05: Rajai Davis
OAKLAND, CA - JULY 05: Rajai Davis /
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OAKLAND, CA – MAY 07: Rajai Davis (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA – MAY 07: Rajai Davis (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /


The career .264/.313/.384 slash line for the 12-year veteran won’t jump off the page, but as far as fourth outfielders go it’s certainly acceptable.

Davis joins the Red Sox carrying a .233 batting average that represents his lowest since his brief introduction to the big leagues in 2006. While age may have deteriorated his swing a bit, it’s unlikely he’s truly declined to this extent. His .288 BABIP is well below his career rate and league average.

Some of that misfortune can be chalked up to playing half his games in Oakland, where the spacious foul territory leads to many outs that would fall harmlessly into the stands at Fenway Park. Davis owns an infield fly percentage of 8.4 percent, which is about league average. Many of those shallow pop ups turned into outs in foul territory, but those outs will decline by escaping the pitcher’s park in Oakland.

His bat has also started to heat up since the All-Star break. Davis is hitting .303 with an. 848 OPS over his last 76 at-bats, compared to .210 with a .578 OPS over 224 at-bats in the first half. You could argue that the larger sample size is a better indicator of his abilities, but at least the Red Sox are getting him at the right time.

Davis doesn’t provide much pop, but he’s also spent most of his career in pitcher-friendly parks. That changed last year when he was with the Cleveland Indians, leading to a career-high 12 home runs. The move to Fenway could give his power numbers a boost, similar to how Eduardo Nunez suddenly started mashing home runs as soon as he escaped San Francisco.