Khris Davis swinging bat like past HR kings

April 11th, 2019

Sometimes you want do a reset with Khris Davis, who has been the home run king of baseball for the past three seasons and starts off this one as if he wants to do it again. It’s either a reset or simply reminding people what they are seeing with a guy who can often seem as if he is hiding in plain sight, even as he continues to hit balls out of sight for the A’s.

Since the start of the 2016 season, Davis really has hit more home runs than anybody. He hit two more for the A’s on Wednesday night, and then two more on Thursday afternoon. He now has nine for the short season we have seen so far, taking the Major League lead over Cody Bellinger and Jay Bruce, who are killing it for their teams the way Davis continues to kill it for the A’s.

Again: In this home run time for baseball, as balls continue to leave the park in record and dizzying numbers and we’re all giddy over exit velocity, the balls Davis are hitting are the ones exiting ballparks the most.

Here is what his boss with the A’s, Billy Beane, who played the game before becoming a transformational executive, said about Davis on Wednesday night after Davis lost two more against the Orioles:

“He has more raw power than anyone I’ve played with, or had as GM. And that list includes, Strawberry, Canseco, McGwire.”

More raw power than anybody Beane played with, or has had as a GM. That is saying plenty. But Davis continues to do plenty in the middle of the A’s batting order. On Wednesday night he also got to 200 home runs for his career, and he did it in his 2,784th at-bat, which is faster than any other active player. He’s still just 31.

“It’s just a number,” Davis said.

It’s not the oddest number attached to Davis, as he continues to put gaudy home run numbers into the books. The oddest number is this one: .247. As Davis has hit 42 homers and 43 and 48 the last three seasons, his batting average has been .247 all three times. So it’s clear by now that he will swing his way into the record books in any way he can, as he continues to be one of the great trades Beane has ever made, which is saying plenty.

Beane got him from the Brewers in February 2016 for a couple of prospects, a catcher named Jacob Nottingham and a pitcher named Bubba Derby. Davis had been in the big leagues three years by then. The previous year he had hit 27 homers for the Brewers and knocked in 66 while, of course, hitting .247. He went to Oakland and went from 27 to 42 and hasn’t stopped since. There are more famous sluggers in baseball at this time, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron "All Rise" Judge and Bryce Harper and Bellinger and others. Davis continues to beat them all. Most raw power Beane has ever seen.

On Wednesday night in Baltimore, Davis’ manager, Bob Melvin talked about the slugger getting to 200.

“That’s a lot of homers; I certainly can’t relate to that,” Melvin said. “You look in the last, what, five years, it’s just been unbelievable. So, once he established himself and certainly once he got here, he’s become one of the elite power hitters in the game without a doubt.”

For now, Davis is the elite power hitter in the game. John Smoltz worked the Astros-Yankees game with Bob Costas on MLB Network on Wednesday night while Davis was hitting more home runs in Baltimore. And after Jose Altuve, who is 5-foot-6, tried to launch his second home run of that game out of Minute Maid Park and out of the city limits of Houston, Smoltz was breaking down Altuve’s swing, even at his size, and talking about how power comes from the “ground up.”

Altuve is a little closer to the ground than Davis. But Davis is built more like power hitters out of the past in baseball than power forwards like Stanton and Judge. He is 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds. Willie Mays was 5-foot-11 and 180 in his prime, and on his way to 660 home runs in the big leagues. The great Henry Aaron, who hit 755, was 6 feet and 190 pounds. Mickey Mantle was 5-foot-11 and 195. Out of the three of them, the best three-year rip was Mays, between 1963 and '65 when he hit 137 home runs for the Giants, on his side of the Bay in northern California. Davis hit 133 between 2016 and '18, and now comes out of the blocks hitting big again.

The Brewers were looking to rebuild when they traded Davis, and you can see that they have done that pretty quickly in Milwaukee. For now, Derby is pitching in San Antonio of the Pacific Coast League and Nottingham is catching there. The story, then, is still being written for the two of them.

While it is, Khris Davis, out of Cal State Fullerton, is the home run story of baseball, in April the way he has been the three seasons before this. Two more Wednesday night. Two more Thursday. Nine for the season. In a Home Run Derby world, Davis is still the champ. Still belting balls over the fence. He still has the belt.