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Rajai Davis has enjoyed a forgettable pair of seasons in Toronto, never quite living up to the standard that he carved for himself during his 2009 and 2010 campaigns in Oakland. Additionally, Davis also plays a below average outfield despite having amazing speed. His UZR of -6.9 and -5.4 during his time in Toronto have typically ranked him among the worst American League outfielders.
Those metrics are what makes his play on August 12, 2012 such a surprise. The play occurred during the seventh inning of an eventual 10-7 win over the Yankees. Davis had already had himself quite the game, having driven in five runs on a pair of doubles and stealing a base, so it was only right that he topped it off with the defensive play of the year to boot.
With 0 outs in the inning and Curtis Granderson on first base, Brad Lincoln threw a 2-0 fastball down the middle of the plate to Casey McGehee. The Yankee third baseman obliged him by hitting a towering fly-ball to left field. Davis, seemingly with non-chalant ease, strode back on the ball, timed his jump perfectly, and hauled that ball back in for the first out of the inning.
When asked to describe the catch, Davis had this to say:
“It’s something that [hitting coach Dwayne Murphy] and I talked about earlier in the year,” Davis said. “We talked about planting the leg, getting up over the wall. But it takes a perfect ball to be able to time that right, and then the ball coming down, it takes perfect timing.”
McGehee himself was pretty impressed with the catch, thinking that the ball was gone and that there was no way Davis had a play on it.
”When I saw him turn his back I thought he gave up on it,” McGehee said. ”Little did I know he was just timing it up … I guess I’ve got to hit it a few feet farther next time.”
When Rajai Davis hangs up his cleats, he name will barely leave a blip on the history of Toronto baseball. However, that play will live on in Blue Jays legends for years to come.