Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles didn’t win the All-Star home run derby at Citi Field. He finished fourth with 12 dingers.
But with 37 home runs in 96 regular season games, Davis is definitely in the mix to hit over 60 home runs this season. It is important to the sport that he reach 62.
You see, in many people’s minds, 61 is still the all-time single season home run record which was set by Roger Maris of the New York Yankees in 1961.
If Davis can reach that magic number of 62 and top Maris he will go a long way toward removing the stain that steroids and other performance enhancing drugs have put on all of the recent home run records in the sport.
Unless we are all in total denial we now know that Barry Bonds‘ 73 home runs in 2001, considered the official single season home run record, was not done naturally. The 70 homers hit by Mark McGwire and the 66 hit by Sammy Sosa in 1998 also fall into that category.
As Davis gets closer to the 60 homer plateau, the questions about whether he is doing things in a legit manner are beginning to get louder. In this modern, steroid-fueled era of baseball seemingly everyone is guilty in the court of public opinion until proven innocent.
But I think Davis truly is different. I think he’s doing things naturally. He looks and sounds like a young ball player that has cut down on the strikeouts, finally figured out his swing and how to hit in the major leagues.
Davis understands the questions are starting to come because of his breakout season but, more importantly, he understands why they are being raised. In a recent interview, he fully admits to being caught up as a youngster in the great home run chase in ’98 between Sosa and McGwire.
But he also looks back now in disappointment knowing that what he was seeing wasn’t real. He doesn’t want to be that next slugger to disappoint.
Davis says he believes that if he beats Maris’ total of 61 that he should be declared the new, real, legitimate single season home run champion.
I would agree and I take him at his word that he is doing things cleanly. He’d have to be a total narcissist to disparage the steroid users and then try to break what he considers the “legit” record with enhancements. I suppose anything is possible, but I just don’t see it with this player based on what he has said about his situation.
Baseball desperately needs Davis to come through with 62 this season. If he does it would show that players once again can accomplish great things naturally. It would also, hopefully, begin to steer the conversation away from A-Rod, Ryan Braun and the off the field shenanigans and move it toward guys like Davis doing big things on the diamond.
Davis seems the perfect personality to do this because he understands his potential place in baseball history. He is low key and humble about what he has done so far yet his words also reek of confidence, but not arrogance. And he can hit a ton.
He wants to break Maris’ total not just for himself but because it will help the Orioles win a lot of games. That’s the kind of hero baseball as a sport needs and would welcome with open arms.
We all have our teams that we root for, but when it comes to individuals, it’s hard not to root for Chris Davis as we watch this journey he is on. Let’s hope he gets to the magic 62. The sport will be all the better for it.