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 – JUNE 07: Rajai Davis (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA – JUNE 07: Rajai Davis (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Base Running

The base paths are where Davis can really shine. Last year he led the AL with 43 stolen bases. He’s not quite on that pace this season, but his 26 steals are still the fourth most in the league. Betts leads the Red Sox with 18, putting him well behind.

Davis immediately steps in as the biggest base stealing threat on the roster. When he’s not starting in the outfield, he can be utilized in a pinch-runner role. Red Sox fans are well aware of how valuable speed off the bench can be in the postseason. That attribute made Dave Roberts a legend in this town. Davis can fill a similar role with his wheels.

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Base running isn’t confined to stolen bases. Moving from first to third on a base hit, scoring from second base or advancing on a wild pitch are all examples of ways a runner can make a difference. BsR, or base running runs above average, encompasses these factors along with stolen bases to quantify a runner’s value on the base paths. Davis ranks 6th in the league among hitters who have played at least 100 games this season with 6.6 BsR. He trails only Betts on the Red Sox, who leads the league with 8.0 BsR.

Davis also has the speed to beat out an infield single. His 13 infield hits this season ties him for only 24th in the league, although keep in mind that has come in only 300 at-bats. Xander Bogaerts leads the Red Sox with 23 infield hits but has done so in 446 at-bats.

The Red Sox rate fairly well on the base paths as a team, ranking third in the league in steals with 78 and fifth with a 0.8 BsR. Davis will help improve those marks, although his true value may be in his veteran experience. Boston’s aggressiveness has a habit of backfiring, resulting in a major league-leading 67 outs on the base paths. Davis can pass along his knowledge to the younger players to help teach them to avoid those mistakes.