Chasing Roger Maris: Chris Davis off record home run pace, but still close

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

There's still plenty of season for Davis to take the pace lead, or fall even further behind.

We've been keeping an eye on the home run production of Chris Davis over the last month, as he's within striking distance of setting the single-season American League home run record. Thanks to a slow streak following the All-Star Game, the Orioles' slugger is currently a bit behind his initial torrid pace, but he's still so close that a good week for homers could erase all of that and put him right back where he was.

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After going deep against the Padres on Wednesday night, Davis now has 41 homers, and a slash line of .302/.375/.676 after 113 games and 114 team games. Roger Maris, the current holder of the single-season AL long ball record with 61 blasts back in 1961, had 42 bombs through 114 team contests and 113 personal ones. Maris would finish with the aforementioned 61, of course, while Davis is on pace for 58 if he plays in each of the remaining 48 Orioles games.

Another 21 homers in 48 games might seem impossible -- over the course of 162 games, that would be 71, one more than Mark McGwire in 1998 and a couple behind Barry Bonds' record 2001 season, in which he hit 73. Davis doesn't need to keep that pace up over 162 games, though, in order to pass Maris: he just needs to turn things on during the hottest months of the baseball season the ones where the ball is apt to fly out of the park more often. It's still a tall task, but again, we're talking about someone who is pace for 58 homers as is, and has hit 56 of them in the last 365 days and 156 games played.

Maris picked up his pace ever so slightly down the stretch, as 42 homers through 113 games with 48 to go came out to 60 if you rounded up. If Davis has a two-homer game, say, Friday night against the Giants and Ryan Vogelsong, giving him 43 through 114 games, his pace would all of a sudden jump from 58 to 61. This is a very fickle thing, and that's why it bears watching even if he slowed to "just" four homers in his last 18 games. That could become six in 19, or seven in 20, or whatever short-term outburst that course corrects his recent play very quickly.

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