In praise of Rajai Davis

If I were to tell you last week, that six games in, a candidate for our most valuable position player would be Rajai Davis, I'm sure you would have laughed.

Ok, that was a stretch.

However, with all due respect to Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson, I'm in love with Rajai's play thus far. He's fast, he's exciting, and he really can change the game coming off the bench. It's a sign of how good the Jays are getting when a player like Rajai is on the bench. There's a couple reasons why I love him this year though, and they aren't just limited to his speed. Follow me over the jump...

First, he's playing (and being played) to his strength - his incredible speed and baserunning instincts, as well as his (pretty good) ability to hit lefties. We saw it today, against Jon Lester, albeit he did get a little lucky on the pickoff steal. We saw it in the second game of the Cleveland series, where his speed factored into the win in a big way.

While this is on John Farrell for playing him smartly as it is on Davis for coming through, the one thing I'll point out with Davis is that he looks like a different hitter up at the plate. Last year he seemed to be trying too hard to get on base with his bat. The Rajai trademark last year was swinging on 0-2 sliders that were really far out of the zone. This year, he's working the counts more, making the pitchers throw more, and he's got a .300 OBP to show for it at the moment.

Second, the speed. Oh my goodness, the speed. For all Buck's talk about Lawrie going first to home on Rajai's double in the second game in Cleveland, it was more impressive for me that Rajai hit the double on a ball that didn't even make it close to the wall. He proceeded to steal third - he's 17 for 17 in stealing third as a Blue Jay, by the way - and scored on a Rasmus single.

Even today, I don't think there's another guy in the league that gets away with that misread pickoff. Gose maybe, but he's not in the league so he doesn't count.

Third, he's playing well enough that he's giving Farrell options beyond an occasional pinch runner. Just by his play thus far, he has increased the flexibility of the bench as well as giving Eric Thames some relief against lefties. That'll help in close games almost as much as the revamped bullpen.

If Davis continues doing what he's doing - playing well in relief, being fast, and staying healthy - he might just be the most underrated part of this Blue Jays team this season.

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