J.D. Davis growing into Giants all-around offensive, defensive anchor
Davis offensively, defensively blossoming into Giants' anchor originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
J.D. Davis, in his seventh MLB season, has become the best version of himself on the field for the Giants in 2023.
The 30-year-old utility man who, along with three pitching prospects, was acquired by San Francisco in a trade on Aug. 2 last season that sent outfielder Darin Ruf to the New York Mets has become an anchor at the plate and on the field for the Giants.
In San Francisco's 6-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night at Oracle Park, Davis hit his team-leading seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot that tied the game 2-2 in the first inning.
It's not often that a right-handed hitter goes opposite field over the 24-foot-high right field wall at Oracle Park. In speaking to reporters after the game, Giants manager Gabe Kapler credited Davis' swing, which generates power to all fields, for his game-tying blast that snuck out onto the arcade.
"It's his swing path, he can drive the ball that way, he can drive the ball anywhere in the ballpark and he doesn't need to generate it, it's just natural power and strength," Kapler said. "That was on display on that swing."
In 76 combined games with the Giants dating back to last season, Davis is hitting .269/.355/.498 with 15 home runs, 33 RBI and a 136 OPS+.
As impressive as Davis has been with the bat since the trade to the Giants, he quickly blossomed into an above-average and possibly an elite defender with the glove. Davis currently is ranked third in all of baseball in Outs Above Average (4), seventh in Defensive Runs Saved (2), and has the second-best Def rating at 4.5, which measures fielding runs above average.
A lot of what Davis credits for his surprising defensive success this season has been his extra work with Giants bench coach and infield/baserunning instructor Kai Correa, who has helped him to develop a simplified pre-pitch routine that focuses on slowing the game down and fine-tuning his fundamentals.
"Just a lot of hard work. I give a lot of credit to Kai for taking me under his wing from the day I got traded over here," Davis told NBC Sports Bay Area's Carlos Ramirez and Randy Winn on "Giants Postgame Live" after the game. "He was super enthusiastic that he can, not necessarily fix me, just get me on the right path and work on the little things and not the wrong things I was doing."
In three-plus seasons with the Mets, Davis never was able to settle in at one position and bounced back and forth between third base and left field, which prevented him from taking that next step as a defender. Thanks, in part, to the hard work he has put in with Correa, Davis not only is stellar defensively at third base but is able to succeed at other positions where the Giants might need him.
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Davis, a very proud, yet humble player, takes his craft very seriously and always has maintained a positive mindset throughout the ups and downs of his career. He is not just another veteran slugger who can deliver a pinch-hit homer off the bench when the Giants need it. He's the starting third baseman and, for the foreseeable future, has earned the opportunity to stay at the hot corner.
"I always thought I was a solid defender going up through the minor leagues, learning the position," Davis told Ramirez and Winn. "And I always kept my head up and stayed positive with myself. It's so easy in this game to be a critic of yourself, but you've got to stay with the fan and I, myself, am my number one fan and I just try to keep my head up and keep working with Kai and sure enough the results are coming along."
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