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Eric Davis

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Eric Keith Davis
(Eric the Red)

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[edit] Biographical Information

Widely considered the most talented player in the National League in the 1980s, Eric Davis never reached his career potential in large part because of injuries.

Davis was a boyhood friend and teammate of Darryl Strawberry, who was the bigger star when they were kids growing up in Los Angeles, CA. Davis played for the famed Fremont High School baseball team, a team that had produced four first round draft picks. No one since Davis has reached the majors coming from Fremont. He was signed as an 8th-round pick in the 1980 amateur draft by the Cincinnati Reds and scout Larry Barton Jr.. Davis came up in 1984 at the age of 22, showing signs of his trademark abilities: he hit 10 home runs in only 57 games, and stole 10 bases, getting caught only twice.

It was Davis's luck to come up when Pete Rose had just taken over the managerial reins for the Reds. Rose took an immediate liking to the young player, who became a big star for Rose, at a time when Rose was betting on games.

In 1986, Davis stunned baseball with his unusual combination of stats: 27 home runs, 80 stolen bases, and 100 strikeouts. It was reminiscent of Bobby Bonds, although Bonds had never stolen close to 80 bases. Davis was, however, partly overshadowed by Rickey Henderson's performance in the other league during the same year, when Rickey hit 28 home runs and had 87 stolen bases. In 1987, Davis rearranged the numbers a bit, hitting 37 home runs with 50 stolen bases.

Davis tied the record for a major league position player by striking out in nine straight plate appearances. He did so in 1987, following Adolfo Phillips (1966) and Steve Balboni (1984). Reggie Jackson also tied the mark in 1987 and Bo Jackson followed in 1988. It was 19 years until Mark Reynolds became the sixth player to share the record.

In 1989 Eric hit for the cycle, the first time in 30 years that a Reds player had done so (the previous player was Frank Robinson in 1959).

Davis, was never a very durable player, appearing in at most 135 games in a season, which limited his home run and stolen base totals. The year in which he stole 80 bases he appeared in only 132 games. At the age of 30, Davis became a journeyman, going to the Los Angeles Dodgers, then to the Detroit Tigers, back to Cincinnati, then to the Baltimore Orioles, then to the St. Louis Cardinals, and then finally to the San Francisco Giants in his last 10 years in the majors. In 1998, with Baltimore, his slugging percentage reached as high as .582.

He retired with 282 home runs and 348 stolen bases. He appeared in post-season play 3 times, winning a World Series ring in 1990 with the Reds. He never came close to winning an MVP award, and did not lead the league in any major category. He did win 3 Gold Gloves, and his range factors were consistently good.

Diagnosed with colon cancer in 1997, he returned to play though the 2001 season. In 2005 the fans of Cincinnati voted him to the team's Hall of Fame, along with fellow 1990 World Series hero Jose Rijo.

In terms of "similarity scores", two of the most similar players are Larry Doby and Darryl Strawberry.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 2-time NL All-Star (1987 & 1989)
  • 3-time NL Gold Glove Winner (1987-1989)
  • 2-time NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1987 & 1989)
  • 1996 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 8 (1986-1990, 1993, 1996 & 1998)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1987 & 1989)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1987 & 1989)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1987)
  • 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 2 (1986 & 1987)
  • Won a World Series with the Cincinnati Reds in 1990

[edit] Further Reading

  • Eric Davis (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget," Baseball Digest, April 1994, pp. 81-83.

[edit] Related Sites

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