Rajai Davis was enjoying mixed results this season as the Blue Jays’ center fielder before he endured a season-ending hamstring injury. He didn’t hit for average (0.238) or hit home runs (1), but he did manage to steal quite a few bases (34 in 338 PA). Taking into account how rarely he was on base (0.282 OBA), he was historically active on the basepaths.
To get an idea of how often he attempted to steal, I took the number of stolen base attempts (SB+CS) divided by the number of times he was on first (BB+1B+HBP). Not every time a player is on first do they actually have an opportunity to steal, but this combination does give a general idea of the number of chances vs. attempts. Here are the top players from 2011 (min 300 PA):
Davis was by far the leader in 2011.
His high number wasn’t due to being a pinch runner, either. Looking at Baseball-Reference.com, the 31-year-old was in only 13 games as a substitute with eight plate appearances and four stolen bases.
To put the numbers into perspective, here are the top five players since 1950 (min 300 PA):
So what does Davis’ place in history mean for 2012? Probably not much if he isn’t playing. He may see his batting average increase to his career level (0.273), but Toronto’s outfield is crowded. The Blue Jays have their 2011 outfield mostly set with Thames, Rasmus and Bautista. Talk from the team implies that Davis may see some time in LF (Bautista at DH?).
What I would do with Davis in 2012 drafts:
1. Only draft him in a league with daily roster settings. He probably won’t get enough playing time for a league that uses weekly rosters.
2. Watch for the days he is playing and insert him if one of your other players has a rough matchup.
3. While not a huge split, the right-hander has done historically better vs LHP (0.292/0.350/0.411) than RHP (0.264/0.304/0.360). Use him against lefties if you can.
I would look to utilize him strictly as a platoon player to inflate your stolen base numbers. Take a late round flier on him and get some extra steals when the situation warrants it.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.