Athletics

How A's Khris Davis changed batting stance to become MLB's best slugger

How A's Khris Davis changed batting stance to become MLB's best slugger

OAKLAND – If you've been watching Khris Davis since his time in Milwaukee, you probably noticed a pretty drastic change in his batting stance after he joined the A's.

Davis stands much more upright now and keeps his hands significantly lower than his stint with the Brewers. He says the adjustment was inspired by a Hall of Famer.

"I think I stand a little more like Griffey now," Davis told NBC Sports California, referencing former Mariners great Ken Griffey Jr. "That's what I thought in my head when I made the adjustment. You can see my hands are a little lower. My rhythm is a little different. Whenever I made that adjustment, it clicked right away and I haven't changed much since then."

Davis was already a pretty good power hitter in Milwaukee, belting 49 home runs between 2014 and 2015. But he took it to another level in Oakland, crushing 42 homers in 2016, 43 in 2017 and 48 last season. This year, he leads the majors with 10 round-trippers through 20 games.

"I think the swing changed with the stance," Davis said. "When I had my hands higher, the doubles weren't home runs. Now, the doubles are home runs."

A comparison of Khris Davis' batting stances in Milwaukee (left) and Oakland (right). "You can see my hands are a little lower," Davis told NBC Sports California. 

Added A's manager Bob Melvin: "I've seen video in the past and everybody makes adjustments from time to time over the course of their career. But what I know is what I've seen here, and it's been all pretty good. You don't need to make too many adjustments when you're hitting 40-plus home runs a year."

While Davis credits Griffey as the inspiration for his current stance and swing, NBC Sports California analyst Bip Roberts sees another former All-Star: longtime Cincinnati Reds outfielder Eric Davis (no relation).

"When we talk about throwing the bat head, Eric Davis was incredibly quick and so is Khris Davis," Roberts explained. "What they're doing is the old school way of hitting, and that's taking the bat head down to the baseball, down through it. And if they get a curveball, they can get under it because they have control of that bat head."

Davis notes that, while his current stance marks a significant change from his Brewers days, it's actually not completely new for him.

"In my head, I've done it throughout my whole life," he said. "The first time I did it when I was young, I hit a home run. That's just the one adjustment I could go to that's worked."

[RELATED: Davis dubbed 'the most interesting player in baseball']

Perhaps the most interesting element of the adjustment is that Davis made it on his own, without the input of A's hitting coach Darren Bush.

"No, that's completely me," Davis said. "Bushy helps me more with the mental side, how to slow the game down. The swing is the swing."

And the swing is effective. Since the start of the 2016 season, Davis leads the majors with 143 home runs.

"Different stances work for different guys," he suggested. "Whatever stance you feel comfortable in is what I recommend."

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Having a lefty bat at the second base position continues to be one of the A's main focuses this offseason

That could mean reuniting with Eric Sogard. A source tells NBC Sports California the 34-year-old is open to returning to Oakland.

Sogard, currently a free agent, had an exceptional campaign in 2019 slashing .290/.353/.457 with 13 homers across 110 games with the Blue Jays and the Rays. He was part of the Tampa Bay squad that came to the AL Wild-Card Game in Oakland and celebrated in the visitors' clubhouse.

A's fans remember the outcome of that. 

The second baseman spent six seasons with the A's from 2010-15 where he accumulated a .239 average with eight home runs and 105 RBI. 

The A's traded second baseman Jurickson Profar to the Padres on Dec. 2, so they have a need at the position.

Despite picking up a talented second baseman during Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, the team will still seek a more prominent starter at the position. 

[RELATED: A's are focused on keeping young stars]

The A's reportedly are interested in bringing current Mets second baseman Jed Lowrie back for the third time -- but there are 10 million reasons as to why the Mets wouldn't make a trade.

Did we mention Sogard bats left-handed yet?

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

As teams headed down south to the Winter Meetings in San Diego, the two main goals for the A's appeared to be finding a left-handed bat at second base, as well as continuing conversations with relief pitchers.

While the A's didn't make any huge acquisitions during the meetings, the 2019 Rule 5 Draft came and went as it does every year. With that, Oakland selected three players in the minor-league phase of the draft and had a couple more transactions as well.

Second baseman Vimael Machin was acquired from the Phillies for cash considerations. He will be competing for a roster spot.

The 26-year-old slashed .295/.390/.412 with seven home runs and 65 RBI across the Double and Triple-A teams in the Chicago Cubs organization last season. 

Jason Krizan was selected from the Mets during the Triple-A phase. The 30-year-old outfielder hit .275 across two teams last season. 

The Athletic's prospect writer Emily Waldon says he's going to be a solid addition to the A's organization.

"His walk rate has always been impressive," Waldon told NBC Sports California. "He doesn't have a ton of swing and misses, with some raw power, with eight to ten home run seasons. He's also a dependable defender with a good veteran presence." Waldon also joked Krizan has "80-grade sarcasm."

The A's also selected catcher Jose Colina, who put up some massive numbers with the Arizona League Indians Blue after signing with Cleveland as a minor-league free agent in June. The 21-year-old slashed .372/.443/.744 with eight homers and 20 RBI.

Right-handed pitcher Deivy Mendez rounds the group out. In 25 appearances across Single-A and Short-A last season with the Padres organization, he went 2-1 with six saves and a 4.20 ERA, striking out 33. 

[RELATED: A's interested in acquiring Lowrie for third time]

The Cincinnati Reds selected outfielder Mark Payton, who was claimed off waivers by the A's in December of 2018. Payton was selected during the major league phase of the draft which, according to Waldon, has the A's losing some muscle at the plate.

However, scouts reportedly didn't see the 28-year-old "doing a great deal outside of filling some needs." That power is what has gotten the most talk around Payton. 

Payton took advantage of the PCL last season with Triple-A Las Vegas and slashed .334/.400/.653 with 30 home runs and 97 RBI in 118 games.