He is a 30/30 Club Member: But How Good Was Eric Davis?
Friday June.8, 2012
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- Eric Davis was an amazing talent for the Cincinnati Reds during the mid 1980’s. He was drafted as a shortstop but quickly made his way through the minors and ended up in the Reds outfield for his debut in May of 1984. You talk about 5 tools in a player, Davis was the poster-boy for this. Pete Rose described him in one of his books as “having the greatest raw ability that he had seen since Roberto Clemente.” Davis grew up in Los Angeles, California and was a thin-wiry 165 pounds when he came up to the Majors, despite being 6 foot 2 in height. In 174 AB that year, he hit 10 HRs an stole 10 bases. In 1985, he hit 8 HRs and stole 16 bases in just 122 AB. This prompted a promotion to full-time player by then skipper Pete Rose at the start of the 1986 season.
The Cincinnati Reds had just come out of he ‘Big Red Machine’ era and were searching for young players such as Davis and Barry Larkin to take the reins with the new club. Eric Davis did not disappoint in his first season, in just 415 AB he hit 27 HRs and stole an eye-popping 80 bases while scoring 97 runs. A star was born. Eric Davis played with an all-out mentality, as such he required rest days from time to time with the nicks and bruises he would sustain through stealing bases or playing nice defense by diving. The Reds were always in contention under Pete Rose, however they were always finishing in 2nd place. It finally looked the team had a nucleus of players that could take them to the promise land. Davis was right at the top of the forefront for talent.
This youtube clip shows the 1985 Cincinnati Reds team. At about the 1 minute mark, there are two homers shown from Eric Davis.
In 1987, Davis started out the year leading in most offensive categories in the Majors, but he suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for 24 days before returning back just before the All-Star break. This injury interrupted what could have been a legendary year for the man. Eric Davis still hit his way to the 30/30 club with 37 HRs and 50 SB in only 129 Games. To add to the impressive numbers he also scored 120 runs. It was the first time ever that a 30/30 member had reached the 50 SB plateau with 30 HRs and has only ever been equaled by Barry Bonds. It took Davis 474 AB to put up these numbers in 1987 and he slugged nearly .600 and his OPS was .991. Even with these incredible numbers, he only finished 9th in MVP voting. I can only imagine that Davis would have easily hit 40 HRs to be the first 40/40 athlete in baseball, or he may have had a shot at 50 HRs. He would have needed 13 HRs in 33 games. If Matt Kemp is aiming for 40/40 or 50/50 and achieves this, he would be the first ballplayer to do this while not having been suspected of PED’S.
The 4 baseball players that have joined the 40/40 club have all been suspected or have admitted to taking steroids. Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco. There have been a few nears misses of players that have not had allegations. Vladimir Guerrero fell one HR short for the 2002 Montreal Expos in a 40/40 bid and Matt Kemp missed his chance for 40/40 last year also by a HR. Eric Davis is one of 2 men to ever hit 25 HRs and add 80 SB in the same year, when he accomplished this feat in 1986. The only other person to do this was Rickey Henderson in the same season of 1986 for the New York Yankees.
Sadly, Eric Davis never played more than 135 games and battled injuries for his whole career, including a bout with colon cancer in 1997. Davis did hit a key home run during the 1990 World Series Game 1 contest versus the Oakland Athletics. This hit helped the Reds win the game and eventually the NL Champs would go onto sweep Oakland for their first championship in 14 years. Injuries would plague Davis from 1991-1994 and he later would join the LA Dodgers. After sitting out the 1995 season to heal up old wounds, Davis returned to the Reds for 1996, clubbing 26 HRs and drove in 83 RBI. Davis ended up winning NL ‘Comeback Player of the Year.’ In 1998, Eric Davis came back from cancer to hit .327 with 28 HRs and 89 RBI for the Baltimore Orioles. In this season Davis also set a Baltimore Orioles club record- with a 30 game hitting streak. At the end of this year, Davis was honored with Roberto Clemente Award for his work with the Multilple Myeloma Research Foundation. Eric Davis ended up with 282 HRs and 349 SB in 1626 Games for his career. His lifetime stolen base percentage ranks him in the top 10 all-time, hovering around the 83% mark.
There is no shame in this career at all Mr. Davis. I enjoyed watching you play the game with as much hustle as Pete Rose. He was super-talented and am glad I had a chance to write about him today. Eric Davis currently works in the Reds front office and helps teach the Reds players fundamentals during every spring training.
***Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Douglas “Chuck” Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports. To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book, ” please click here ***
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Posted on June 8, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged alex rodriguez, alfonso soriano, baltimore orioles, barry bonds, barry larkin, Chuck Booth, cincinnati reds, eric davis, jose canseco, matt kemp, MMRF, oakland athletics, pete rose, rickey henderson, roberto clemente, the fastest 30 ballgames, vladimir guerrero. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.