In Rajai Davis, have Red Sox found Dave Roberts, 2.0?

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 10: Rajai Davis
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 10: Rajai Davis /

In the 2004 ALCS, Dave Roberts stole the base heard ’round the world. In Rajai Davis, the Boston Red Sox have found their latest player to beat opponents with his feet.

On August 21, 2017, the Boston Red Sox found themselves with a golden opportunity. Trailing Cleveland 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th and facing the Indians’ closer, Cody Allen, Christian Vazquez led off the inning with a single.

Vazquez, while not the prototypical slow-footed catcher (6-for-7 in stolen base attempts this season), isn’t the ideal base runner to represent the tying run. The situation screamed for manager John Farrell to pinch run for Vazquez and, sure enough, another Red Sox player popped out of the dugout.

Unfortunately, the player Farrell chose, outfielder Chris Young, wasn’t much of an improvement. While he topped 20 steals in a season three times in his career, Young last stole at least ten in 2013. Coincidently, the same number of steals he accumulated over the last three seasons combined.

Boston Red Sox
BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 06: Chris Young /

Young ultimately never moved past first base and the Red Sox took the loss.

With Rafael Devers filling the black hole at third base, Eduardo Nunez sparking the offense from all over the diamond and Addison Reed offering Farrell another power arm in the back of the bullpen, the Red Sox seem well positioned for a deep postseason run.

More from Chowder and Champions

But, as Roberts so memorably proved, having speed on the bench is as hugely important a weapon in the late innings of a playoff game as a shutdown reliever or pinch hitter.

While not as iconic as Roberts, Quentin Berry is another example of a player who impacted games with his legs. He stole three bases, one in each series, for the eventual 2013 World Series Champions.

Now here comes Rajai Davis. With 391 career stolen bases to date, including 26 this season alone, the 36 year old Davis represents perhaps the most accomplished thief to ultimately fill this role for the Red Sox. However, with Jackie Bradley, Jr. out for the foreseeable future, he’ll also likely put his bat to use spelling Andrew Benintendi in centerfield, particularly against tough lefties, another role in which Davis excels.

Next: Boston Red Sox: Andrew Benintendi’s blistering August nights

It remains to be seen whether or not Davis’ stint with the Red Sox will go down in history as Roberts’ did. Suffice it to say, however, the days of Chris Young as 9th inning pinch runner are probably over for now.