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You May Run Like Mays: Rajai Davis' Early Season

Scene:

Hayes gets in and takes his stance. On the first pitch, he takes a mighty cut and hits a pop-fly to the pitcher's mound. We take QUICK CUTS of the next three pitches. Hayes takes prodigious swings at all of them, producing three more pop-ups, none out of the infield. Brown calls a halt.

BROWN
Well, you may run like Mays, but you hit like ****.

HAYES
My stroke'll come back once I get warmed up.

TEMPLE
(referring to some stats)
Never did get warmed up last year. Hit .211 at Maine. I looked him up.

BROWN
I think Mr. Hayes shows some promise. His speed could be a big asset.

PEPPER
(aside)
For what? Running back to the dugout?

BROWN
You gotta stop swingin' for the fences though, Hayes. All you're gonna do is give yourself a hernia. With your speed you should be hittin' the ball on the ground, leggin' 'em out. Every time I see you hit one in the air, you owe me twenty pushups.

HAYES
Hey, no problem.

The next pitch comes in. Hayes swings and pops it up.

HAYES
****.

As he gets down to do his twenty, Brown turns to Temple.

BROWN
Sometimes you can teach a guy to hit. You can't teach him to run.

End Scene

Granted, it's two weeks into the season, but much has been made about Rajai Davis' batting; particularly his BABIP (batting average on balls in play); it's not as if Rajai has been particularly unlucky; he just hasn't been good.

I'm not ready to jettison our leadoff hitter quite yet, but the number that is most concerning to me isn't his BABIP or his average; it's the fact that in his 65+ early at-bats of the season, he's walked exactly twice. You can argue the importance (or non-importance) of batting order, but I'm pretty sure you want your lead-off hitter to have some sort of an on-base percentage. When a player doesn't walk, his OBP is virtually his batting average, and for Rajai, this is not a good thing.

In addition, as anyone who has watched the last few games can tell you, he has had some truly terrible swings. He doesn't look comfortable at the plate, and he is swinging at pitches in different zip codes (one bounced into the stands last week; one last night wasn't much better). Say what you want about his overall stats, but the Rajai we've seen of late isn't the same player as the second half of last year. He looks tentative; he's in his own head, and he looks like he can't decide when to take a pitch and when to swing. He looks lost out there.

And it's a shame, really. Rajai has scored almost as many runs as he has hits, and has managed to swipe seven bases without being thrown out a single time. When he hits the ball on the ground, his speed seems to turn every play into a race. But after sitting through pop-ups, fly balls, and strikeouts (and I understand that Rajai has way less control over this than I would like him to), the question really does become: Do the A's make a change? If so, when? Who?

I like the guy. I love when he's playing well. But I worry about that leadoff spot; yes, even two weeks in.