The Red Sox and A’s continued their longstanding bromance/resource-sharing/trading/philosophy mirroring history when they hired Chili Davis as their new hitting coach. This, following the Red Sox famed wooing of Billy Beane, trading for Yoenis Cespedes, seeing former Red Sox farmhands win division after division there in Oakland, and watching Jon Lester wearing yellow and green for a few months, it is safe to say that there is mutual respect for one another’s processes and players.
The move has largely been lauded, especially as the Rangers and the Yankees also were vying for Davis’ services. You never really know how a hire will turn out, but after an embarrassing offensive display in 2014, marked by noticeable failures in young hitters taking the next step toward being major league hitters, a change was clearly needed.
So, what exactly is the Red Sox getting in Chili Davis? As a player, Davis was a solid power hitter (350 career home runs) with a high OBP (.360 career) designated hitter. This is in line with the offensive vision the Red Sox are creating from the front office down.
It is also the offensive vision of the Oakland A’s, where Davis has overseen the offense for the last three years (after having been hired out of the Red Sox minor league system prior to his appointment in Oakland). During that time, they scored 713, 767, and 727 runs each year. They also boasted .310, .327, and .320 OBP during a pitching dominant era in a brutal hitting park (what with the long fences and endless foul territory).
By contrast, the Red Sox scored 734, 853, and a brutal 634 runs in the last three years in a fantastic hitters park. The OBP of the collective Red Sox in the same time periods were .315, .349, and .316. Throw out the outlier World Series year (rather let’s now…that was a good year) and we have a more limp offense than Oakland in a significantly better offensive park.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s remember that we have hired one of their coaches before, and that ended in disaster. Curt Young was hired as pitching coach out of the A’s dugout before the 2011 season, and that appointment lasted one season before young headed back to Oakland. Just because something works in Oakland, does not mean it will work in Boston – no matter how similar the philosophies are. Remember, after all, that in the postscript of Moneyball, Billy Beane said one of his first moves in Boston – had he taken the job – would have been to trade Jason Varitek.
We shall see how this turns out – but initially, it seems like an inspired move. If nothing else, it is always fun to beat the Yankees to something they think they want. Now, let’s see if he can make a major leaguer out of JBJ, WMB, and Rusney (among others).