Khris Davis’ power a spectacle worth the price of admission
Khris Davis’ ability to make hitting the ball out of the park the other way look easy has perplexed even him:
“I don’t know (how I do it). I honestly don’t know. I have no answer.”
All season long, the left fielder has shown opposite-field power rarely seen in Oakland. Davis’ impressive feats of strength have left his coaches and teammates in awe. So it was greeted with little surprise when his single-season career-high setting 28th home run of the season came on a high fly ball down the right field line — one that, off the bat, did not appear destined for the seats.
Manager Bob Melvin has been consistently amazed by the slugging first-year Athletic, and this one was no different:
“Nobody hits the ball down the right-field line like that, as a right-handed hitter. And he really didn’t even get it. Guys just don’t do that.”
One day after delivering No. 28, Davis showed his pull-field power, smoking No. 29 into left-center between the 362- and 388-foot markers and into the second section of bleachers. He quickly added No. 30 the very next day — also to the left-center power alley.
Of his 30 bombs this season, 11 have gone to the right of center field. Five of those have come in his home ballpark The Oakland Coliseum, which has a noted history as pitcher-friendly park.
Perhaps the most prolific home-run hitter to ever call Oakland home, Mark McGwire, who hit a total of 583 homers in his career, is credited with just 67 “oppo-tacos,” according to Baseball Reference.
Bay Area native Marcus Semien grew up around sluggers the likes of McGwire and all-time home run king Barry Bonds, who hit 117 of his 762 the opposite way, but put his teammate’s power in perspective:
“He’s got the most power to right field that I’ve seen. Wherever the pitch is, he’s trying to hit it there and he knows he can hit it out of the park anywhere. It’s a pretty special gift to have.”
Oakland rookie starting pitcher Sean Manaea has been the pitching recipient of five “Khrush” homers, including a two-jack performance on July 27 at the Texas Rangers. The 6-foot-5 hurler has been impressed by the power generated from Davis’ 5-foot-9 frame:
“He’s unbelievable. I hadn’t heard anything about him before coming into Spring Training, but since then he’s juts put on a display of power like I’ve never seen before. … It’s awesome to see, and I’m glad I don’t have to face him.”
With Davis on pace to reach 40 home runs this season, he is poised to do some thing no Athletic has done since Jason Giambi launched 43 in his MVP season of 2000. The closest any player has come to hitting 40 in a season for Oakland, since “Giambino’s” final year with the A’s, was the 39 mashed by Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas in 2006.
The former Milwaukee Brewer is coming off a season in which he went deep 27 times playing in the very hitter-friendly National League Central, and enjoying home games in one of the most homer-yielding parks in the game — Miller Park.
While the 27 came on just 121 games — he has played 108 thus far this season — they came on the heels of a 22-homer season in a 144-game 2014 campaign. Athletics All-Star Stephen Vogt is baffled by the power increase:
“If you would have told me that he was going to shatter his career high in homers moving from Milwaukee to Oakland, I would have probably laughed in your face. He’s making the Coliseum look like a hitter’s park.”
The fact that his power has increased since moving to the Bay Area can be taken as proof that his potential is somehow only now reaching its peak now, in the 28-year-old’s fourth MLB season.
For him, though, it is no surprise. He’s not even clear what people are talking about when they say that the Oakland Coliseum is tough on home-run hitter:
“That’s what they say, but I don’t really know.”