Speed’s a hell of a drug

When Rajai Davis was a baby, he was pigeon-toed. I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind. The guy had to wear boots connected by a metal bar to straighten his legs out. And now he’s fast as hell.

What he did on Friday night, leading off the bottom half of the first… that was something else. The at bat, and what ensued, led Cole to write that “Rajai Davis is awesome.” And maybe I’m going to have to agree.

WTF! He's safe!

From my perch way up in the 500s, here’s what went through my mind:

  1. Wow. Davis is FAST. How’d anybody beat that out?
  2. (Watching him take a huge lead) He’s going to steal. He’s going to steal. He’s going to steal. Don’t get picked off!
  3. Shit. He got picked off. At least he’s going through the motions of the rundown instead of just running into a tag.
  4. WTF! He’s safe! How’s that even possible? Well, he just made a bunch of fans.

Now, I understand that, objectively, base thieves do very little to disrupt pitchers. And I know that Davis’s stats (other than steals) haven’t been the most encouraging throughout his career. I took part in a pre-season roundtable a few weeks back and I pointed to Davis’s everyday role as a big weakness of the team:

Rajai Davis, I’d like him as a 4th outfielder or maybe even in a platoon situation. His speed is nice, but he just doesn’t get on base enough to justify being an everyday player.

What I said, I still believe. But…

I was in the stadium when Davis beat out the rundown. I saw the effect it had on the crowd and what happened throughout the rest of that inning. I know it’d be very hard, possibly even impossible, to mathematically attribute what happened in that inning to Davis, but humans are hardwired to see causality where it doesn’t necessarily exist.

And it was damn exciting.

So yeah, Davis has won over a lot of fans — if my hunch at the time and the chatter on the subway post-game and the rest of the weekend are any decent indication.

I think I may be one of those converts.

I still believe he’d be better suited to a fourth-outfielder/pinch-runner role, but that’s not what his role is right now. Davis is the team’s everyday centrefielder — warts and pigeon toes and all. I plan on enjoying his run.

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