Breakout Performer: Brewers Rookie Khris Davis Is Making a Name For Himself
It’s difficult to imagine the size of the shoes Brewers rookie Khris Davis had to fill this season: Not only was the 25-year-old called up to replace disgraced former MVP Ryan Braun in left field, but he also shares a name with current MLB home run leader Chris Davis. Despite that pressure, the 5′ 11″, 195-pounder is wearing those shoes well: He’s been on a tear since joining Milwaukee on July 23, with 8 homers over the past month, five of which came during a recent 11-game hitting streak. We caught up with Davis to ask about 50-homer potential, Kay Dee POWer, and back pain.
SI: First off, most important question: Which moniker have you heard more frequently: “Chris Davis with a K” or “The other Chris Davis”?
Davis: “The other Chris Davis.”
You earned a spot on the Opening Day roster by hitting 6 home runs in 69 at bats during spring training, but then got sent back down to the minors for almost three months. How was that up-and-down experience?
It reminded me of my freshman year in college, as far as being a younger guy in the clubhouse and learning so much. I had no idea what to expect. I’m still learning and adapting, but it’s different going to the ballpark having some experience.
FACT After his first MLB hit—a double off Arizona’s Patrick Corbin back in April—teammate Kyle Lohse gave Davis the ball as a memento, but only after intentionally misspelling Davis’ first name, inscribing the wrong date, and using childlike penmanship for it all. Later, clubhouse manager Tony Migliaccio gave Davis the real baseball in a display case.
You were drafted by the Nationals out of high school, but instead opted to attend Cal State Fullerton. What led to that decision?
I just wanted to have the college experience and learn how to compete. I figured college would give me the chance to learn against players who were better than me. I just wasn’t ready for pro ball at the time. I’ve seen high school players get drafted and struggle so I wanted to grow a little first.
FACT Many years before the Nationals drafted him, Davis played on a little league team named for Washington’s predecessor, the (little) Expos.
You were batting .255 in AAA this year; now you’ve raised your average to .314 in the bigs. Do you attribute that jump to anything in particular?
When I went down to AAA (in May), I don’t think I was ready. It was kind of like spring training all over again for me because I wasn’t getting consistent at bats that first month in the majors, so I fell behind with my timing and rhythm. It was just a slow, slow start.
FACT For his first career home run, on July 23, Davis drilled an offering by Padres lefty Colt Hynes into the right field stands. He was pinch hitting.
You had your first MLB multi-homer game last week with two dingers at Cincinnati. How many times in your college or pro career have you hit two or more in same game?
I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head. I’m not really a stats guy like that. But it’s happened before and I know it’s going to happen again.
You’ve hit eight home runs in 86 big league at bats so far. At that rate you’d have more than 50 homers over a full season. Think you could ever pull that off?
Yeah, if I want that enough. It’s all about ambition. If we want anything bad enough we can make it happen somehow.
FACT Davis won the Midwest League Home Run Derby in 2010, the same year he set the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Class-A Affiliate of the Brewers) record for home runs in a single season with 22.
Any significance to your jersey number, 18?
I didn’t get a chance to pick. They just gave me a jersey number.
Barring injury, Braun will be back from suspension at start of next season, presumably bumping you out of left field. How would you feel about playing another position?
Hey, why not? I’m a baseball player and we play more than one position. I mean, I love the outfield. My favorite players are outfielders. I love taking away hits and running down fly balls. I like that a lot more than a ground ball, that’s for sure.
Who are those favorite players?
Gary Sheffield, Jacque Jones, Griffey. My favorite active outfielder is Torii Hunter, who was also a childhood favorite.
FACT Davis showed his outfield range and leaping ability with a theft of a Ryan Zimmerman shot to the wall on August 3.
FACT Four days later, Davis ruined another National Leaguer’s day with a full extension grab of a Buster Posey drive.
Most memorable at bat?
Probably my first hit, a double off of Patrick Corbin. It came right after I made a sliding catch.
Who’s the toughest pitcher you’ve faced?
Probably Clayton Kershaw.
Did you get to see him just once or a few times?
Just once. I do want to face him again because he K’d me up. He was pretty tough.
What’s the deal with Kay Dee POWer juice from Milwaukee’s mobile juice bar ‘Juiced’?
I really enjoy the process of juicing: cutting carrots up, taking care of my body. I can’t make juices on the road, though, and I live out of a hotel room in Milwaukee. So now I pick my own ingredients and they make it for me.
What’s are the contents of the Kay Dee POWer?
Spinach, cucumbers, pineapples, apples. and mint.
Does that taste okay or do you just pound it for the nutrients?
It’s mainly for the nutrition, but I do like the taste.
FACT Davis’s father, Rodney Davis, reached the class A level as a player in the Dodgers organization and currently works as a scout for the club. Earlier, Rodney served as a scout for the Diamondbacks organization.
Aroldis Chapman hit you in the butt with a 102 mph fastball. Just how enormously does that hurt?
It actually didn’t hurt that much. It was more of a burning sensation.
Favorite breakfast cereal?
Cinnamon toast crunch
Favorite activity on a day off?
If you could be one cartoon character?
Website you visit most frequently?
Probably (Nike) sparqtraining
The greatest thing about California is what?
Peanut Butter: crunchy or creamy?
Crunchy if on a sandwich, creamy if I’m just eating it
If a turtle doesn’t have its shell, is it homeless or naked?