Athletics

Players, managers, scouts all marvel at Khris Davis' power: 'He's a joke'

Players, managers, scouts all marvel at Khris Davis' power: 'He's a joke'

In his first season with the A's in 2016, Khris Davis launched 42 home runs and drove in 102 runs. Incredibly, his production has increased each of the last two seasons.

Last year, Davis notched 43 homers and 110 RBI, both career highs. He has already matched those 43 home runs this season and set a new career high with 115 RBI, with 10 games still left to play.

“Consistent is probably the best word for that,” said A's manager Bob Melvin. “But to me, he's been a better hitter this year. ... He'll hit a ball in the hole between first and second, he'll drive the ball to right field. I think he's a better hitter this year and I think the RBI numbers would suggest that.”

“It's just kind of who I am,” Davis said of his consistency. “It's kind of my personality. I think I'm an all-around good hitter, not just a power hitter. I like to think of myself as a really good hitter with power.”

Part of what makes Davis so special is his opposite field power. Most sluggers pull the vast majority of their home runs, but Davis hits them to right field as effortlessly as he does to left.

“I think I developed it at an early age,” he said of his opposite field ability. “At this point of my life, it's just more about muscle memory and getting to repeat it.”

“He's a joke,” A's pitcher Brett Anderson said earlier this season. “He hits balls that left-handed pull hitters don't hit to right field. The ball comes off his bat different than pretty much everybody I've ever seen.”

We recently asked baseball scout and NBC Sports California analyst Shooty Babitt if he has ever seen anyone with Davis' ability to hit opposite field home runs.

“Yes, but not to this extreme,” he responded. “I always thought about Jim Rice as being one of the strongest right-handed hitters of my era. He got all his strength from his lower half -- just incredibly strong legs and the ability to create a lot of leverage. That's where (Davis) gets his (power) from. He's got bat speed, but the leverage comes from his legs.”

On the surface, Davis is not your prototypical power hitter. He is listed at only 5-foot-10 and has a somewhat unusual swing, where he often opens up his body and steps toward third base, or “in the bucket,” typically something baseball players try to avoid. But Davis makes it work.

“Just look at the results,” Babitt said. “If you go back and look at some of the greatest hitters to ever play -- Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays -- they both stepped in the bucket. But they were able to keep their hands back, because as a hitter you fight with your hands. As long as you've got them, you've got a chance. (Davis) has always got his hands in position to do damage.”

Melvin has also compared Davis' swing to that of Mays: “He opens up a little bit, but he keeps his hands back and keeps his left shoulder closed, and hits it out to right.”

Davis says he actually got his inspiration from another legendary slugger, Ken Griffey Jr.

“Mainly it's just channeling my inner Griffey and trying to mimic that. From the right-handed side, it sounds weird, but I think that's where it came from. ... No one ever really tinkered with it. I've pretty much had the freedom to do whatever I want at the plate my whole life.”

That freedom has certainly worked for him. Davis' 43 home runs lead all of Major League Baseball, as do his 128 homers over the last three seasons.

“For pitchers to know that and still continue to make mistakes, and for him to be able to capitalize on those mistakes, it kind of reminds me of Rickey (Henderson),” Babitt said. “Everybody in the stadium knew what he was going to do when he got on first base and they couldn't stop him. I think it's incredibly phenomenal what (Davis) is doing.”

A's Matt Chapman has adjusted personal goals in shortened MLB season

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AP

A's Matt Chapman has adjusted personal goals in shortened MLB season

Matt Chapman’s always one to raise the bar. His personal and team goals continue to elevate, even after the A’s had 97-wins and he hit 36 home runs and another platinum glove.

Those achievements are awesome in a vacuum, though losing in the A.L. wild-card round (again) and a late-season offensive slump shows room for improvement for the stacked A’s and their all-star third baseman.

Putting it all together could mean a World Series title and an MVP award, or an offensive season for the ages at the very least.

That last part, of course, assumes a 162-game season. Numbers don’t mean the same thing in a 60-game season. Chapman, therefore, has to look at his stat line differently.

“The main goal is to stay healthy, stay on the field and then just take good at bats and do my part,” Chapman said. “I’m not going to put too much stress on the season because two months is such a small sample size. If you don’t start well, your numbers are never going to be what you want them to be. I’m hopefully not going to dig into that too much. I know that’s easy to say now, but I want to focus on the team and keep guys healthy. Hopefully we can do that and just win. Our focus should be health and making the playoffs.”

[RELATED: Why A's Matt Chapman could win AL MVP award in 60-game 2020 MLB season]

Collectively, the A’s are focusing on winning as many games as possible in a condensed season where every game is magnified.

“I think that, from a team standpoint, the goals are still the same: win as much as we can and stress getting off to a good start,” Chapman said. “That’s extremely important now. That was our focus coming out of the spring training beforehand, but that especially key now. You can win and lose a season in two weeks it seems like, in this short schedule. You can’t fall too far behind. On the other side of it, you could also jump out to a good lead. It’s exciting because it seems like every game is going to be a playoff game.”

Chapman doesn’t have much time to ramp for this condensed 60-game season, which is now two weeks away. He has voiced displeasure over the A’s inability to start workouts at the earliest possible date but is now focused on maximizing opportunities he has. That doesn’t mean he’s working too hard, as he and the A’s position players may have when they were finally allowed to start camp.

[RELATED: A's Matt Chapman is 'definitely frustrated' due to summer camp delays]

It’s about working smarter in the time allotted.

“The biggest thing for me is getting quality reps and not worrying about the quantity so much and trying to play catch-up,” Chapman said. “I don’t need a million swings to get ready. I need quality swings and to avoid tiring yourself out because, when it does start, it’ll be a sprint. You can’t jam a ton into every day. We have to be smart and, right around that two-week mark [of camp], we’ll be in a good spot.”

A's to use San Jose as alternate training site for 2020 MLB season

A's to use San Jose as alternate training site for 2020 MLB season

The A's officially have chosen their alternate site for players to train during the 2020 MLB season.

Oakland will use Excite Ballpark in San Jose -- the home of the Single-A San Jose Giants -- as the designated alternate site for the season, the team announced Friday.

[RELATED: Ramón Laureano: Everything to know about A's do-it-all outfielder]

All A's players not on the active roster or taxi squad will report to San Jose, as the 2020 Minor League Baseball season was canceled in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We are grateful to the San Jose Giants for their partnership in this unique endeavor for baseball. We look forward to working with Dan Orum and his staff in San Jose for the duration of the 2020 season. Additionally, Larry Baer, Farhan Zaidi, and the San Francisco Giants organization were instrumental in making this happen and I appreciate their willingness to collaborate across the Bay,” said Oakland A’s General Manager David Forst. “We’re excited for our players to continue their development and preparation to potentially join our Major League Club at some point this season.”

No one from Oakland's 60-player pool for the season will be heading down to San Jose, as training camp continues at the Coliseum.