Back in what we’ve now come to regard as the Steroid Era, 30 homers before the All-Star break had become no big thing. But in the post-Mitchell Report, drug-tested world of Major League Baseball, it’s once again eye-opening.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis socked two home runs against the Yankees on Saturday, giving him 30 before June is even out. His total ties Albert Pujols (2009 for the Cardinals) for the most through June since 2001, when Barry Bonds hit 39.
In addition, Davis has set a club record for most homers through June and tied Brady Anderson’s Orioles mark for most home runs before the All-Star break. Davis has 14 more games to break Anderson’s first-half slugging record for the O’s.
With Baltimore having played its 82nd game on Saturday, the matter of home run pace is just a doubling of numbers, so Davis is well ahead of the pace he needs to break Anderson’s club record of 50 homers set in 1996. And if Davis does stay on pace and end up with 60, he would record MLB’s first 60 season since 2001, when Bonds hit 73 and Sammy Sosa hit 64.
And if you’re inclined to disregard the slugging totals of baseball’s enhanced days, Davis could join Roger Maris (61 in 1961) and Babe Ruth (60 in 1927) in elite company.
Davis hit a three-run drive in the first inning Saturday and added a two-run shot in the sixth, his third multihomer game of the season. The five RBI gave him 79, second-most in the big leagues and just six short of his career high.
"You can't make mistakes," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We made two mistakes with two curveballs tonight. We left them up in the zone and he hit them both out. He's not hitting 1.000, but I will say he is having a tremendous year. You have to make your pitches."
Given that Davis' career high for home runs in a season is 33, who could have seen this coming?
"I don't think it's anything you can predict," Davis said. "I think it's something you obviously work hard toward in the offseason to try and carry it into spring training and then into the season. I'm not going up there to try and hit home runs. I'm just trying to put good swings on good pitches. I think that's the biggest thing."
Davis scored three runs and upped his batting average to .333. The five RBI tied a season high.
"You can see him grinding and working on it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's not satisfied. He wants to continue to contribute at a high level for his teammates."