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The unlikely power of Khris Davis

How the five-foot-ten designated hitter is hitting homers at a record pace

Boston Red Sox v Oakland Athletics Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Khris Davis packs a lot of power in his five-foot-ten frame. At age 31, when power is supposed to tail off, Davis’ home run total is only increasing. He has more home runs than other player in MLB since 2016. When he was acquired from the Brewers in 2016, the A’s knew he could hit home runs, but were unsure about how long his body would hold up that end of the power bargain. It did.

They thought they’d received a good athlete who could run down balls in the outfield, despite his weak throwing arm. They could’ve never predicted his incredible power surge over the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout. Due to his upper cut swing, Davis hits an extremely high-rate of fly balls.

According to a previous Beyond the Box Score piece, Davis has been gradually increasing his launch angle each of the past three seasons:

2016: 12.9 °

2017: 14.2 °

2018: 17.7 °

Davis generates a lot of his power from rocking is back elbow down through the zone. His bat is in the zone for much longer than other hitters, allowing him to showcase his power particularly to the opposite field. His home run trajectory has been trending more towards center and right-center field over the past few seasons. According to FanGraphs, Davis has been gradually hitting less ground balls because of his new opposite field approach for more power.

  • 2015: GB% = 42.5%,
  • 2018: GB% = 36.1%
  • 2015: Pull% = 41.4%
  • 2018: Pull% = 36.1%
  • 2015: Oppo% = 20.1%
  • 2018: Oppo% = 24.5%

(Courtesy of Hitting Performance Lab)

Davis’ home run spray chart for 2018

Baseball Savant

He seems to be pulling the ball more in 2019. However, consider the small sample size.

Baseball Savant

The secret is definitely out about the power of Khris Davis as he leads the majors with ten home runs so far in 2019. According to’s Richard Justice, Davis is on pace to hit 85 home runs by the end this season. He hit 48 home runs last year and could be the first Oakland player to break 50 home runs in a season since Mark McGwire (52) did it back in 1996. He’s also making harder contact with a 14.3% barrels per plate appearance.

The A’s got a bargain for Davis considering what he’s produced in relation to what they’ve been paying him. According to NBC Sports Bay Area, Davis has hit more home runs than his well-known peers in the past 4 seasons, while getting paid significantly less.

Khris Davis: 142 HR $32.5 million

Giancarlo Stanton: 124 HR $74.5 million

Mike Trout: 106 HR $106.9 million

Bryce Harper: 91 HR $51.9 million

He just signed a two-year extension with the A’s. Billy Beane should be commended on resigning Davis to his new contract. Their past history in signing free agents who are older than 30 years-old isn’t great. In today’s game, front office’s aren’t keen on signing players for long-term deals, let alone moderate extensions.

A’s GM David Forst was able to look past Davis’ age because of his enormous impact in the middle of their lineup. The supporting cast of Stephen Piscotty, Matt Chapman, Blake Treinen, and Ramon Laureano inspired confidence in Oakland’s front office to offer an extension to Davis. Considering their success last year, Beane thought twice about letting his DH test the free agent market.

The A’s have a chance to be a strong contender in AL West for the foreseeable future, but it’s only possible because Khris Davis is hitting in the middle of their lineup.

John LaLoggia writes about baseball at Beyond the Box Score, Banished to the Pen and Foul Territory Baseball. Please follow him on Twitter @JohnLaLoggia, email him at