Meet Chris Davis

The Texas Rangers offense is pretty scary. Led by huge seasons from Milton Bradley and Josh Hamilton, they score 5.46 runs per game, and are a nightmare for opposing pitchers. However, throughout the 2008 season, there’s been one place they haven’t been able to generate any offense; first base, a position where its usually very easy to find a hitter.

In fact, their first baseman had hit just .225/.309/.339 as a group. From Ben Broussard to Chris Shelton, they simply haven’t been able to find a hitter who could provide legitimate offense, and so now their search has taken them to Chris Davis, newly promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma.

If there is one thing we know about Davis, it’s that he can hit the baseball a long way. Between Bakersfield and Frisco last season, playing at age 21, he hit 36 home runs in 496 at-bats, establishing himself as the premier offensive prospect in the Texas system. In 297 at-bats at Frisco and Oklahoma before being called up to the big show, Davis had launched 23 home runs. He slugged .685 in the PCL, and even though its a hitter friendly league, you can only regress a .685 slugging percentage for a 22-year-old so far.

Davis has serious power, but unlike a lot of left-handed sluggers, he’s not a guy with old player skills who works the count and draws a lot of walks. Davis, who played third base up through last season, is a very aggressive hitter who is willing to expand his zone in order to try to drive the ball over the wall. Since 2006, he’s drawn just 86 walks in 1,042 trips to the plate, although he has gotten progressively more willing to draw a walk as he’s moved up the ladder.

Talking with one scout, Davis was compared to some kind of hybird of Ryan Braun and Mike Jacobs – not as much raw power as Braun, but a better hitter than Jacobs. Interestingly, both Braun and Jacobs tore the cover off the ball upon reaching the majors, so Texas is certainly hoping that history repeats itself. If Davis can put together the .280/.330/.500 line he’s certainly capable of, it will be a big boost to an already potent offense.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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