On July 31, the Pittsburgh Pirates made some trade-deadline headlines — a surprising and rare occurrence for a team perennially out of playoff contention by June — but the debate around the league concerning the trade did not arise from the usual postseason ramifications, but mostly out of bizarre curiosity.
Pundits around the league were mystified as to why the Pirates would acquire Matt Morris, a pitcher not only clearly past his prime, but one with a fat contract. While everyone was questioning the merits of Morris, few people noticed who he was traded for.
That would be Rajai Davis, a second-year outfielder who has found new life and increased playing time with the Giants — while making fantasy baseball owners grateful for the Pirates’ dubious front-office decision.
While in Pittsburgh, Davis put up solid numbers (he hit .389 in July), but he never found consistent playing time. This month with the Giants, he has already picked up more at-bats (64) than he had all season with the Pirates (48).
Davis is pushing for regular playing time, especially as the Giants have finally decided to play some young guys.
Davis’ defense gave him the opportunity to play and his numbers at the plate are assuring he stays out on the field. Through his first 17 games with the Giants, Davis was hitting .304 with seven doubles and a homer. He scored 13 runs over that stretch — which is a run scored for every five plate appearances, a better ratio than Derek Jeter (one run every 6.3 plate appearances) and he has picked up nine stolen bases and a respectable seven walks.
His patience, speed and hitting ability are all the attributes of a classic leadoff man, a position Davis has held increasingly more frequently for the Giants as of late.
There are obviously still question marks concerning the 26-year-old, but the Giants seem committed to playing him. And if he puts up the same numbers in September that he posted in August, he should find himself in fantasy lineups, too.
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Where should Davis start in the outfield in 2008?
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