The Strike Zone

Two-homer day brings Chris Davis to 30 — and select company

Chris Davis continued his incredible power hitting with two tape-measure blasts against the Yankees on Saturday. [AP]Chris Davis continued his incredible power hitting with two tape-measure blasts against the Yankees on Saturday night. [AP]

Chris Davis continues to crush. The Orioles' slugger homered twice on Saturday evening in his team's 11-3 rout of the Yankees, giving him 30 homers for the season. That's six more than the majors' second-highest total, that of the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, and it puts him in some pretty decent company.

According to the Elias Bureau, Davis is the fifth-fastest player to reach 30 homers, doing so in 82 team games. He's also the 34th player to reach 30 homers by the All-Star break, a milepost which in years past put a player within range of challenging Roger Maris' single-season home run record of 61. Juiced sluggers and juiced baseballs changed how we view such quick accumulations of home runs, but it's still worth pointing out.

Given that the Orioles still have 14 games to play before the All-Star break, he figures to climb higher on this list, particularly given that his longest streak of the season without a homer is eight games:

RkPlayerYearG1st Half HR2nd Half HRTotal HR
1Barry Bonds200181393473
2TReggie Jackson196991371047
Mark McGwire199880373370
4TKen Griffey199888352156
Luis Gonzalez200187352257
6Frank Howard1969100341448
7TRoger Maris196183332861
Mark McGwire198780331649
Matt Williams199486331043
Ken Griffey19948733740
Sammy Sosa199883333366
12TFrank Thomas19948632638
Sammy Sosa199985323163
Albert Pujols200990321547
15TWillie Mays195484311041
Mike Schmidt197992311445
Kevin Mitchell198986311647
Mark McGwire199787312758
Jose Canseco19998231334
David Ortiz200686312354
Jose Bautista201184311243
22THarmon Killebrew196476301949
Willie McCovey196986301545
Willie Stargell197176301848
Willie Stargell197386301444
Dave Kingman19768630737
Brady Anderson199679302050
Ken Griffey199784302656
Greg Vaughn199887302050
Mark McGwire20007030232
Barry Bonds200380301545
Jim Thome200682301242
Alex Rodriguez200785302454
Chris Davis20138130--30

As you can see from the table above, not everybody who reached 30 made a serious charge on the record. Mays, the first player to reach 30 by the All-Star break, did so back when Babe Ruth held the record with 60; he was at 31 by the break, but hit just 10 the rest of the way even as he earned NL MVP honors and helped the Giants bring home a world championship. Maris himself reached 33 by the break and successfully toppled Ruth.

Just about every challenger who came along between 1962 and 1998 fell off considerably in the second half. Reggie Jackson's drop was perhaps the most dramatic given that he set a first-half record (it's worth noting that the All-Star Game was played fairly late that year, on July 23), and he had 91 games under his belt (Frank Howard had 100 that year!). When Dave Kingman fell off into the single digits in the second half in 1976, he did so while missing more than five weeks after tearing ligaments in his thumb. Likewise for Jose Canseco (1999) and Mark McGwire (2000), though by that point, the latter had surpassed Maris, albeit with a little pharmaceutical help. Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey and Matt Williams, meanwhile, fell off as their bids for the record ended due to the 1994 players' strike in early August.

The bottom line is that history shows how incredibly difficult it is to maintain the kind of pace Davis is setting. He's not going to get anywhere close to Barry Bonds' 73, but at the very least, he's putting himself in position to become the first player since Jose Bautista in 2010 to top 50 homers, and making a serious case for AL MVP, even as Cabrera continues to post incredible numbers himself. Revising my chart from a couple weeks ago:

One way or another, the two players are 1-2 in slugging percentage, homers, runs (63-59, Cabrera), RBI, OPS and OPS+, the last of which doesn't factor in Saturday's performances. Cabrera came into the day leading the league in Wins Above replacement, with Davis third and Baltimore teammate Manny Machado second.

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