Tuesday night, the Orioles beat the Red Sox. This was big because the Orioles are still in the thick of the American League's wild-card chase. Also Tuesday night, Chris Davis hit his 51st home run. This was big because the Orioles beat the Red Sox by just one run and because the Orioles have a new single-season home-run king. Davis previously shared the record with Brady Anderson, who hit 50 homers in 1996.
Of course, the O's have a dozen more games this season, so "Crush" figures to pad his lead at least a little. But all this got me to thinking about the single-season leaders for every franchise. So I looked them up. And now I will show them to you, because sometimes it seems like you're interested in these trivial matters. All 30 franchises, broken into semi-arbitrary groupings ...
70 - (Mark McGwire)
66 - ( )
61 - (Roger Maris)
What can you say about these guys? Well, you can say about three of them that they had some pharmacological assistance that probably wasn't available to the fourth. And you can say the fourth probably benefited from expansion pitchers and expansion ballparks and hitting in front of Mickey Mantle. So let's not get too terribly judgmental, okay?
For Luis Gonzalez, 2001 was a season for the ages. He'd hit 31 homers in 2000 and would hit 28 homers in 2002, but in '01 he somehow blasted 57. And that wasn't the only odd thing about Gonzo's career; he hit only 81 home runs in his 20s, then walloped 273 in his 30s. In case you're wondering, the No. 2 spot on the Diamondbacks' list is held by Mark Reynolds (44), while the No. 3 slot is owned by Jay Bell, who hit 38 homers in 1999. Like Gonzalez, Bell was 33 when he posted his big power numbers. Like Gonzalez, Bell would never approach those numbers again. Must have been something in the water down there.
Ken Griffey gets extra credit for hitting 56 homers twice.
... and of course Jones played in the majors just last year (and is playing in Japan just this year). Kiner, who led the National League in home runs in seven straight seasons, also holds the Nos. 2, 4, 6, 7, and 11 spots on the Pirates' list. Foster's 52 homers in 1977 was the high-water mark in the majors for more than 30 years; Willie Mays also hit 52 homers in 1965, and Mark McGwire duplicated the feat in 1996.
Boy, it sure is hard to remember that Greg Vaughn once hit 50 homers in a season. But he did, in 1998. Two years earlier, steroids-fueled Ken Caminiti hit 40 home runs in his MVP campaign; before those two sluggers, old-school Padre Nate Colbert owned the franchise mark with a pair of 38-homer seasons.
And yes, Shawn Green owns the Dodgers' all-time record, whether in Los Angeles or Brooklyn. That happened in 2001. He had one more big power season the very next year, after which he was merely good for a few years. Adrian Beltre hit 48 homers with the Dodgers in 2003. Duke Snider hit at least 40 homers in five different seasons ... but never more than 43.
Sorta hard to believe Peña hit 46 homers. That was in 2007. In 2009, he somehow led the American League with only 39 homers. In 2013, he hit eight home runs. O, Fame! You can be so terribly fleeting!
41 - (Carlos Beltrán, Todd Hundley)
36 - (Steve Balboni)
I hold a great deal of affection in my heart for Steve Balboni, but it's hard to escape the conclusion that he's easily the worst hitter who owns a franchise home-run record. Which is perhaps fitting, since the Royals are the only franchise without a 40-homer guy. Looking to the future, they do have a big power-hitting prospect named Wil My--
Oh. Right. Well, maybe Eric Hosmer will hit the weights this winter. Elsewhere, it's hard to spot any immediate threats to team records. You might like Miguel Cabrera's chances, but Hank Greenberg set the bar pretty high. Then again, a bunch of these guys came out of nowhere, so why not again next year?
These things are difficult to predict. The year after Brady Anderson hit 50 home runs, he hit 18 home runs. It's easy to predict that Chris Davis will do better next year. How much better, though? This is why we watch.