The Oakland A’s in the late 1980s and into the 1990s were a truly dominant team. No player personified that dominance better than Storm Davis.
On the whole, Storm Davis was a generally average major league pitcher. He won 113 games over his 13 year career, posting a 4.03 ERA, the equivalent of an ERA+ of 99. As 100 is league average, Davis was approximately that – a league average pitcher who put together a solid career.
Davis also had the fortune of being a part of the Oakland A’s run in the late 1980s. After struggling in his one season in San Diego, the A’s plucked Davis as an August trade, acquiring him for two players to be named later. Oakland had interest in his services before, as he was part of a proposed package when Rickey Henderson was on the trade block after the 1984 campaign.
To a degree, the A’s could not have been blown away with Davis’ performance. In his two full seasons in Oakland in 1988 and 1989, he posted an ERA of exactly 4.00 and a 1.501 WHiP, allowing 398 hits and 159 walks over his 371 innings. He was not exactly an example of dominance.
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But that did not matter. Davis had the fortune of being a part of one of the more dominant teams in the league at the time, where being slightly below average was good enough. Over those two seasons, Davis won 35 games and had just 14 losses, further underscoring how meaningless wins are as a pitching stat.
However, that thought was not prevalent at the time. Despite Davis’ mediocre performance, the Royals were blinded by that gaudy win total, handing him a three year deal worth $6 million. Predictably, Davis bombed with the Royals, eventually being traded to the Orioles for Bob Melvin.
Davis found his way back to Oakland after that season in Baltimore. This time, he was not the same win machine he had been. He produced a 2-6 record with a 6.18 ERA and a 1.612 WHiP in his 19 appearances between the rotation and bullpen. Davis was released on July 9th, and signed by the Tigers two weeks later. He spent the next year and a half in the Tigers’ bullpen before retiring after the 1994 season.
Storm Davis had a lot of success in his first run with the Oakland A’s. Of course, that had a lot to do with how dominant that team was in the first place.