Khris Davis may fall short in MVP voting, but he’s been a big piece of the Oakland Athletics’ renaissance

Anywhere east of Oakland, you don’t hear too many folks chirping about the Oakland A’s cleanup hitter, Khris Davis.

For one, the A’s don’t get much attention outside of the Bay Area anyway, so it’s somewhat understandable that the rest of the baseball world has slept on the green and gold, to say nothing of the A’s designated hitter.

J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts are having sensational seasons, so it’s not shocking that they’re the frontrunners for the American League MVP award. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor also have arguments.

That quartet of superstars are well-known league-wide, which is reasonable. But what Khrush?

The quiet 30-year-old — who has mastered the half-afro, half-braid look — entered Tuesday night’s game against the Texas Rangers with 37 home runs – one shy of Martinez’s major-league leading 38.

Since the start of the 2016 season, Davis leads all of baseball with 122 dingers. More than Giancarlo Stanton. More than Bryce Harper. More than anyone. Yet, Davis doesn’t garner the attention he deserves, nor is he discussed when it comes to All-Star games and MVP’s.

How important has Davis been to the A’s success this season? Manager Bob Melvin explained last month.

“Certain guys make their teammates better, and Khris Davis is that guy for us,” Melvin told NBC Sports Bay Area back on July 18. “He’s a presence that the other team feels. He’s always one swing away from a three-run homer. He just makes our lineup deeper and kind of takes the pressure off everybody else. He’s been terrific since the day he got here.”

Davis is the perfect Athletic. Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh round of the 2009 MLB Draft, Davis was prone to the strikeout and had a weak throwing arm. In three seasons with the Brewers, he struck out 278 times in 1,125 plate appearances, with four outfield assists and nine errors. Oakland basically got him for a box of big league chew and some sunflower seeds.

Davis embodies what Oakland is all about: a blue-collar type of guy who doesn’t flash any type of flamboyance, and he might be Billy Beane’s biggest coup yet.

If I were smashing home runs at the rate Davis does, I’d be just as cocky as Barry Bonds was once. But that’s not Davis. That’s not what he’s about. That’s not what the 2018 A’s are all about.

The fans love it. His teammates can’t get enough of his majestic home runs, including his 438-foot blast on Monday off of the ageless Bartolo Colon.

Already one of the best stories of baseball with his six multi-home run games and league-leading 16 homers since the All-Star break, Davis — who normally shuns the spotlight — did something Monday night before the A’s 9-0 romp over the Rangers that may have been bigger than any home run he’s hit in the last three seasons.

The A’s hosted 12 kids from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes for children with critical illnesses, including 10-year-old Anthony Slocumb, who is remission from cancer called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.

Davis is Slocumb’s favorite player, and in a real tear-jerking moment, had Slocumb sign his game-jersey.

Davis wore that jersey onto the field and hit a ball to the luxury suites.

“I wanted to rock that. I wanted him to know that I was thinking about him,” Davis said. “He just told me I was his favorite and he was here to watch me play … I thought about (Slocumb) around the bases. There’s not a better feeling than hitting a home run, so hopefully, he got some excitement and joy from watching that.”

Even though he earns a team-high $10.5 million, you would never know it. Davis is just one of the guys and delivering for a team that’s pumping fear into the American League.

He’s the superstar nobody knows about. He’s a guy who’ll more than likely fall short in the MVP voting, but that’s okay. Davis doesn’t care, which makes him the perfect face of this scrappy, fun-loving bunch that is the Oakland A’s.

Bonta Hill
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Bonta Hill

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