KC Royals: Is Wade Davis The Best Reliever In Baseball


Wade Davis went from being wildly unpopular in his inaugural season with the KC Royals, to now being one of the most beloved players on the team. 

It’s clear to any Kansas City Royals fan that Wade Davis has been unhittable for one-and-a-quarter seasons. In fact, this guy is so good that he hasn’t allowed a home run since August 24th, 2013.

Digging more into this, the last home run Davis surrendered was 115.1 innings ago and a few weeks after Lorde released her single “Royals”. It was also the last time Davis started a game for the Kansas City Royals before moving to the bullpen and exceeding everyone’s expectations.

It’s odd that Davis hasn’t allowed a home run in such a long time because the knock on him as a starting pitcher was that he gave up way too many home runs.

Just how good has Wade Davis been for the KC Royals since moving to the bullpen late in 2013?

I’ll put it this way: Davis has allowed 10 earned runs in 115.1 innings as a reliever. Aroldis Chapman has allowed 12 earned runs in his last 35.2 innings and Craig Kimbrel has allowed 10 earned runs this season.

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In 19 innings this season, Davis has two wins, three holds, seven saves and a 19/4 K/BB ratio. In pivotal, high-pressure situations, he’s mowing down everything. He’s allowed eight hits to the 68 batters he’s faced and he’s throwing a first-pitch strike 70.6 percent of the time. The Royals are 18-1 this season when Davis pitches in a game.

Perhaps more importantly, he proved to be the same guy when he was put in the closer role. He saved seven games, allowing just four hits and striking out 11, and gave the Royals complete confidence in his ability as a stopper while Greg Holland was on the disabled list last month.

The obvious difference in starter Wade Davis and reliever/undertaker Wade Davis is velocity. According to FanGraphs, he’s throwing his fastball at 95-96-97 mph now, where he used to sit closer to 92-93 mph. As Luke Hochevar might say, Davis is using the “let it eat” philosophy and it’s completely changed his results (Source of article: Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com).

Davis has allowed 10 earned runs in his last 115.1 innings.

After a gaudy, almost comical statistical season in 2014, when Davis struck out 109 batters and gave up 38 hits in 72 innings, Davis picked right back up where he left off and has established himself as a top-tier reliever in the Majors.

The Royals’ eighth-inning man is proving again in 2015 that he’s a legitimate shutdown reliever and his homerless innings streak is just one way to illustrate it. It’s tough to say if Davis makes closer Greg Holland expendable, but it’s a good decision to have to make if you’re Dayton Moore.

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