The Rangers couldn’t get Shohei Ohtani last off-season. So, this off-season they got the econo version: Matt Davidson.
The Rangers signed the former White Sox corner infielder and occasional pitcher to a minor league contract and are letting him earn the backup role at first, and a place in the pen.
In today’s game of baseball, when starters go maybe five innings, and it’s not uncommon to burn through six pitchers a game, yet roster sizes are still at just twenty-five, having thirteen pitchers isn’t enough. Finding a position player who doubles as a pitcher will be a much more common occurrence. It’s no longer a conversation piece. It’s an imperative.
The possibilities are interesting.
Davidson bats and throws right-handed. So he would backup Ronald Guzman against tough lefties. (Guzman hits .208 against lefties, Davidson hits .210 against righties.) But in certain situation, Davidson gives Chris Woodward the option to bring him in to face a righty, move him back to first, then put him back on the mound, saving him from burning through his pen.
Davidson’s a Ranger-type hitter, much lot like Gallo. A lot of power. A lot of strikeouts. Not much in the batting average department. In fact, the comparisons to Gallo are appropriate. Both, coincidentally, have played four seasons. Both had as many scouts wanting to draft them as a pitcher as they did a hitter.
The twenty-seven-year-old Davidson has a bit less power than Gallo, but a slightly better batting average:
Gallo’s has a .203 career batting average and a .317 on-base percentage. Davidson is .226/.295. Gallo strikes out once every 2.6 plate appearances. Davidson, once every 2.9. They have about the same RBIs/plate appearance numbers: Gallo, one RBI per 8.7 PA; Davidson, slightly better, one RBI per 7.2 PAs.
Davidson pitched in three games for the White Sox in 2018, an inning per game, without allowing a run. He walked one, gave up one hit, struck out two, with a WHIP of 0.667. Really small sample size, but those are impressive numbers. He wasn’t a guy who came into a blowout.
He doesn’t have the fanfare or pedigree of Ohtani, but Matt Davidson could be a really valuable piece this year for Woodward.
A corner infielder. A reliever. A pinch hitter.
Options, options, options.