Slugging Khris Davis is big reason A's are chasing playoffs
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Khris Davis has become known as Oakland's other superstar "KD."
The Athletics slugger is having a special season right next door to where Kevin Durant led the Golden State Warriors to a second straight NBA championship two months ago.
Davis is on such a home run streak, he has considered the idea he might hit 50.
It's right within reach at the pace he's on after two straight 40-homer years in his first two seasons with the Athletics.
"It's been on my mind for a little while," Davis said. "It's just another number, another benchmark."
Yet he is far from concerned with his individual total — because that will mean little if he doesn't help Oakland end a three-year postseason drought following last-place finishes in the AL West each of the past three years.
Davis leads the majors with 39 home runs and ranks second in RBIs with 103 behind Boston's J.D. Martinez.
Davis is a big reason the A's are on such a remarkable roll in the second half: Oakland is 17-1-2 in its past 20 series dating to June 15 and 1 1/2 games back of the first-place Astros as the clubs begin a three-game series at defending World Series champion Houston on Monday night.
"He just wants to play baseball," A's pitcher Edwin Jackson said. "You have a couple of those dudes sometimes that just want to go out, don't really like the attention, but they get it because it comes with the job, but if they can go out and play and produce and do well without the attention I'm sure they would prefer it.
"It's like a quiet storm, quiet storm. Oh, man, it's fun watching him doing what he does — it's pretty fun watching him put it all together, too. He's a great person, a great teammate. I couldn't be more happy for him, I wouldn't wish it on a better person."
What has been most impressive to many around him is how Davis continues to make himself better each year, working the count and driving in runs other ways.
As his home runs and RBIs mount, Davis is even getting MVP support from the A's, even though he's batting just .255 and primarily plays designated hitter.
"It's special. Just appreciative and I try not to make it a big deal," Davis said.
His unassuming, quiet demeanor reflects to teammates how focused he is on being the best. Davis' recent gesture to a boy in remission from a rare cancer told them so much about his caring nature, too. On Aug. 20, Davis had 10-year-old Anthony Slocumb sign his jersey , then hit a towering home run that hit the window high above the elevated seats in left-center that night against the Texas Rangers.
"That's who he is," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's beloved by everybody in this clubhouse from the clubhouse kids to trainers, I mean there isn't a group here that he's (not) endeared to. He doesn't want to it in the spotlight, he just wants to be one of the guys."
Davis takes more pride in being that positive example for teammates than he does in clearing the fences — though that helps his credibility.
"Just being a good teammate, and if things aren't going my way I'm still pulling for everybody," Davis said. "I just want the team to win all around. It's been a trait since I was young. That's the reason why we play is to win the ballgame, not necessarily to do good for ourselves but for the team.
Melvin has credited Davis for becoming a more all-around hitter, not just clobbering home runs.
Davis received a $10.5 million, one-year contract during the offseason, more than doubling his salary after he beat the team in arbitration the previous winter.
He hit a career-best 43 home runs in 2017, connecting on the season's final day to surpass the season high he set the previous year for Oakland. The 30-year-old Davis needs one more homer to join Jimmie Foxx from 1932-34 as the only players in Athletics history with three straight 40-homer seasons.
Davis' 85 homers the past two seasons were second in the majors only to Giancarlo Stanton's 86.
His teammates can't always believe what they're seeing from Davis, which is why they're pushing for his inclusion in MVP talks.
"He's a joke. He hits balls that left-handed pull hitters don't hit to right field," pitcher Brett Anderson said. "The ball comes off his bat different than pretty much everyone I've ever seen. He should definitely be in the equation because it's fun to watch him on a daily basis. I'm glad I'm on this side and not the other side."