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A Power Bat Hits His Cosmic Norm

Oakland Athletics v Texas Rangers
Khris Davis desperately tries to shoo a rat that is scampering in the visiting dugout.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The universe shifted back into balance last night as Khris Davis, flailing at sliders that landed in the on deck circle, completed an 0-4 night to celebrate his 2-year extension with a showing of 20 for 81 on the season.

20 for 81 translates to a batting average of .2469 which, of course, rounds up to .247. The universe is once again properly aligned and so now Khris Davis can go on his next homerun binge and you can go do some shopping with the comfort of knowing that the Milky Way is not tilted left or right.

Here’s the remarkable thing about Khris Davis’ compulsion to bat exactly .247. It’s not the easiest batting average to procure. If he had batted exactly .250 for four consecutive seasons, it would still be remarkable and would be a big league record for replication. You can also be batting .250 after 4 at bats, 8 at bats, 12 at bats, and so on.

What does it take to bat .247? Because I have no life whatsoever, I got to wondering what the lowest denominator was for batting .247. Clearly you can achieve this worthy goal if you bang out 20 hits every 81 at bats, but can you bat .247 over any fewer at bats?

The answer is yes: As far as I can tell, the fewest number of at bats in which you can average .247 is to go 18 for 73, which puts you at .24657. If you round up (which I believe causes cancer), you get that coveted .247 clip.

It’s not easy to average a pace that can only be procured over a 73 at bat body of work. But Khris Davis is no ordinary man, as evidenced by the fact that he can hit 40 HRs every season and as evidenced by the even more remarkable fact that he desperately wants to play for the Oakland A’s.

Man I love that guy.

Davis’ successful quest to bring his batting average to a precise unlikely number helped to distract the baseball world from the shocking development of Aaron Brooks proving to be utterly mediocre. Take out 2 crooked number innings and Brooks has been pretty decent this season, but take out 2 felony convictions and my Uncle Perv is a pretty decent job candidate.

Chris Bassitt, Daniel Mengden, Paul Blackburn, and Tanner Anderson (who tossed 6 IP last night for the Aviators and allowed just 1 ER) must be thinking, “High bar. Not.” The first 3 have had samples of big league success, while Anderson impressed during spring training and has put together two solid starts in a row after a rough opener.

The rotation which opened the season is not inspiring, but it’s also not the rotation that will be ending the season. If Marco Estrada’s IL stint is short (and he could potentially miss only one start), the first shoe to drop could be Bassitt staying in the rotation to replace Brooks. Brooks probably has 1-2 more starts to make the case for not being odd man out.

As for other possible reinforcements, some timelines are coming into focus. David Forst, on last night’s broadcast, suggested that Jharel Cotton might be “about a month away” from going out on a rehab assignment, which would make Cotton a potential call up as soon as early June. That’s still optimistic, but is also encouraging.

Meanwhile, Mengden and Blackburn are ready now, champing at the bit for an opportunity. And with Sean Murphy off to a .370/.463/.500 start (46 AB), while Josh Phegley crashes back to earth swinging at everything and hitting nothing yet still being 10x more useful than Nick Hundley, might reinforcements come soon in the form of a battery, not just a pitcher?

Stranger things have happened, such as Jurickson Profar not pulling every ball in play, or not swinging at pitches that are trying to land halfway between the inside corner and his body.

One final thought, because Bob Melvin scrutinizes AN searching for my thoughts on how he should manage situations. I think the A’s are way to quick to bring the infield in, a practice that absolutely has a place but should be done somewhat sparingly. Last night, down 2-1 at the time, the A’s brought the infield in with Eric Sogard batting and runners at 2B and 3B with one out in the 2nd inning. Sogard’s liner through the right side hole was a clean RBI single, but actually might have been caught had Profar been playing back. It’s hard to imagine because the liner wound up nowhere near Profar, but that’s part of the point: when you bring the infield in, you open up a lot of the diamond.

The second inning is awfully early to bring the infield in, although there are times it still makes sense. You have to consider who is batting — if it’s a really poor hitter you don’t want to be too quick to concede a run on an ordinary ground ball. It is also less risk if there is just a runner at 3B, rather than 2B and 3B where a base hit can plate two runs or at least set up two runs.

My rule of thumb is that rarely should you bring the infield in with runners at 2B and 3B, period. You should also not often bring the infield in with 0 outs. Both situations have “crooked number” potential and especially early in the game, generally conceding one run is not a “difference maker” — especially for a team with a robust offense. You are managing against bigger innings.

So late in the game when one run is clearly the run likely to decide the game, runner at 3B and one out: those are times it usually makes the most sense to bring the infield in. I kind of liked Tony LaRussa’s nuance on it, where he would sometimes play the infield back but then bring it in with 2 strikes — the idea being he didn’t want to bail the hitter out by letting him shorten his swing and just put the ball weakly in play. But until the A’s had “count leverage” they were going to play back and mitigate against the crooked number.

Anyway, BoMel, just food for thought. We can discuss further during our daily “So Nico, how should I make tactical moves” latte. By the way, I think it’s your turn to pay. Mike Fiers today against Matt Shoemaker, he of the diving splitter. Remember: “If it’s high, let it fly. If it’s low, let it go.” Next latte’s on me.