Khris Davis arrived in Oakland for the low, low cost of prospects Jacob Nottingham and Bubba Derby. If you don’t remember the latter two names, who can blame you? Oakland has been all KD ever since that February day when the trade was consummated.
It wasn’t always that way. At the time of the trade Davis had demonstrated a potentially elite power tool. He had shown the ability to draw walks. He also struck out his fair share of times. All in all, during his time with Milwaukee Davis was an above-average hitter who wasn’t an asset in the field. He was young and expendable.
Through Davis’ first month in the green and gold, though, fans had wondered whether he was a bust. Perhaps he was a product of the friendly Miller Park where he was a much better hitter than when on the road. His 71 wRC+ through April, 2016 was the second lowest of any month in his career as an MLB regular.
But the hero of this story is Davis and he prevailed. Since May 1, 2016 Khris Davis 132 wRC+ is 21st among all hitters with at least 1000 plate appearances. His Isolated slugging is 3rd-best. His slugging percentage is 7th-best. These numbers exceed those of all-stars such as Giancarlo Stanton, Nelson Cruz, Mookie Betts, and the list goes on. Most importantly, since 2016 nobody has hit more home runs than Khris Davis. No one is even close. Simply put, Davis isn’t just Oakland-good. He is truly an elite slugger in the entire game.
Since 2002 only 3 other A’s hitters have a better wRC+ in their A’s career. One is brandon Moss. The other is hall-of-famer Frank Thomas. Matt Chapman, who is becoming an elite hitter himself, is the third.
Most importantly Davis is ours for at least two more seasons. I say ours because, perhaps more than any other player in recent memory, Davis is an Oakland fan’s player. Contrary to the expressed or implied opinions of players who have and have not played for the A’s, Davis has said he enjoys Oakland and would like to play there long term.
His two-year extension isn’t the longest handed out by Oakland’s front office, nor is it the most team-friendly. It may not even yield the best return on investment. The reality of this extension, however, is that none of that really matters. Even to those Athletics fans most devoted to analytics, valuations, and payroll optimization this $17 million designated hitter is a luxury even the budget-conscious A’s can’t pass up.
Davis’ Oakland career represents the path this iteration of the Oakland A’s has taken. A slow, unimpressive start leading to an explosive and loud finish. I know there are some of you who still don’t trust the Oakland brass and who contend this doesn’t come close to making up for the head scratching transactions of the past. But for now we can all agree this is something good for the team, for the city, and for the fans.