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Fantasy Baseball : Don't Look Now, But Rajai Davis May Soar to Fantasy Stardom

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 07:  Rajai Davis #11 of the Oakland Athletics safely steals third base during their game against the Texas Rangers at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 7, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Chris McGuirkContributor IJanuary 21, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO– Moving from the spacious outfield of the Oakland Coliseum to the hitter-friendly confines of Rogers Centre, all signs point to Rajai Davis becoming one of the top value picks in this year’s MLB Fantasy Draft. Although Davis may not be your prototypical leadoff man for the Toronto Blue Jays (an OBS of .320), he gives the team a speed threat that the fans of Toronto have not seen since the likes of Shannon Stewart nearly a decade ago.

Last year for the Oakland Athletics, Davis hit an impressive .284 penciled in at the leadoff spot—ranked third on the team behind second basemen Mark Ellis and outfielder Ryan Sweeney. Based on his career averages, he actually has the ability to improve on these already impressive numbers.

Davis will finally be a part of an offense that is worthy of being called a Major League lineup.  He began his career with the San Francisco Giants, who boasted a lineup featuring the ‘triple threat’ Dan Ortmeier, Todd Linden, and Lance Niekro—true power hitters of our era. He then moved across the Bay to Oakland, where the biggest threats to opposing pitchers were not the hitters in the lineup, but the $1 hotdogs on dollar-dog Wednesday (see CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon).

Rajai Davis has finally been given the opportunity to be a part of an actual offense and will now benefit from one of the most potent lineups in the league. Last season, the Blue Jays hit a Major League leading 257 homeruns—46 more than any other team, while slugging .454, also good for first. Now, opposing pitchers must pick their poison. Do you want to pitch to one of the best base stealers in the game? Or do you want to pitch to the dangerous power hitters in the middle of the lineup?

This past season, the Blue Jays used Fred Lewis as their leadoff man. Due to the recent trade of Rajai Davis, it seems like his playing days with Toronto are numbered. The following are the splits from each of the leadoff men over the past season:

Fred Lewis 428 AB, 70 R, 36 RBI, 8 HR, 18 SB, .262 AVG, .332 OBP, .746 OPS

Rajai Davis 525 AB, 66 R, 52 RBI, 5 HR, 50 SB, .284 AVG, .320 OBP, .697 OPS

It may seem that Fred Lewis is the more viable fantasy option, but his stats are warped due to the potent lineup that follows him—thank you Jose Bautista, Aaron Hill, and Vernon Wells. If Fred Lewis can put up these numbers in this lineup, imagine what Rajai Davis can do surrounded by his All-Star cast.

During the 2010 baseball season, Lewis was able to score .145 times per plate appearance. If Rajai Davis can keep the .330 OBP he has maintained over the course of his career while scoring at the same ratio at Lewis, he has the potential to score over 90 runs. Add in the 50 stolen bases he has averaged over the past two seasons, and you have yourself a bonified fantasy stud.

Only ONE player this past season has had 80+ runs, 50+ RBIs, 40+ SB, with a .275+ AVG: Carl Crawford.

Rajai Davis, welcome to fantasy stardom.

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