The hottest hitter in major league baseball is no stranger to Round Rock Express fans. In fact, people out here expected him to make it big.
Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles grabbed the sport’s attention by hitting a home run in each of his first four games — a feat accomplished previously by only Willie Mays, Mark McGwire and Nelson Cruz. Davis racked up more RBIs (17) in his first five games than anyone else in major league history.
Before he was an Oriole, Davis, a 27-year-old Longview native, had an unforgettable two months in 2011 for the Express.
“First thing I think about with Chris is the sound of that tin banging when he’d hit those balls off the roof beyond center field,” Round Rock manager Bobby Jones said. “He crushed a bunch of them off the top of that shed, and I mean that’s a long way.”
Express broadcaster Mike Capps said, “Heck, he hit one over that entire building.
“You talk about athleticism, You don’t see guys 6-4, 6-5 and 230 pounds do all the things Chris can do. Tremendous power, great arm strength and agility.”
Davis, the Rangers’ fifth-round pick in 2006, put up astounding numbers in Round Rock in 2011. In 48 games, he clubbed 24 homers, drove in 66 runs and batted .368 with an .824 slugging percentage.
For a full season, Davis was on pace for 70 home runs and 200 RBIs. Honest.
“It was unbelievable to watch,” Jones said. “He’d go in spurts, and when he got hot, nobody could get him out.
“But he was always the same guy. Laid back. Good-natured. Never let anything faze him.”
Express outfielder Joey Butler, who played with Davis, called him “the best Triple-A player I have ever seen.”
“He was fun to watch, and he brought a lot to the lineup and the clubhouse,” Butler said. “I’m happy he’s doing so well.”
Texas dealt the versatile Davis, who plays infield and outfield, on July 30, 2011, to Baltimore for setup reliever Koji Uehara, who has since moved on.
“Boy, isn’t that a trade the Rangers would love to do over again?” longtime Express fan James Schofield said at Sunday’s game. “Without Josh Hamilton, they could really use Davis’ bat. At the least, they should have gotten more for him.”
Davis had his breakout major league season last year, with 33 homers and 85 RBIs.
“I think he’ll have a great career,” Capps said.
Players who have homered in the first four games of a season:
Willie Mays; San Francisco; 1971
Mark McGwire; St. Louis; 1998
Nelson Cruz; Texas; 2011
Chris Davis; Baltimore; 2013