Heading into Friday's action, Orioles slugger Chris Davis has 32 home runs, meaning he's on pace for 60. There have been only eight instances in MLB history where a player hit 60 homers or more in a single season.
The illustrious list:
- Barry Bonds, 73, 2001
- Mark McGwire, 70, 1998
- Sammy Sosa, 66, 1998
- Mark McGwire, 65, 1999
- Sammy Sosa, 64, 2001
- Sammy Sosa, 63, 1999
- Roger Maris, 61, 1961
- Babe Ruth, 60, 1927
Of course, every one of those seasons above Maris came during the so-called "Steroid Era" and Bonds, McGwire and Sosa have all been connected to PEDs to different degrees -- including McGwire flat-out admitting steroid use.
Due to this, Davis said he believes he's chasing Maris' single-season record, not Bonds'.
“I do and the reason being, he was the last guy to do it clean,” Davis said on ESPN's Mike and Mike morning show (via baltimoresportsreport.com). “There's a lot of things that have been said about the guys who have come after him and have achieved the record, but I think as far as the fans are concerned they still view Maris as being the all-time home run record [holder] and I think you have to. There's no doubt that Barry and Mark and any of those guys had ridiculous seasons and had some great years, but I think when you get to the root of the record, I still think it's Roger Maris'.”
As for the growing -- and completely unfair -- speculation among fans and some media members, Davis doesn't seem bothered by the talk.
“I think the biggest thing for me to remember is you know as long as I continue to do things the way I've always done [them], you know can't really rely on what other people are going to say,” Davis said on Mike and Mike. “We get drug-tested just like everybody else, we have the strictest drug testing policy in all of professional sports and I actually think in a way it's kind of a backhanded compliment.”
Just as I did with Jose Bautista two years ago, I'll continue to defend Davis against the intellectually lazy here. His answers definitely sound like those of a clean player and he's right about the testing in place. If he were guilty, wouldn't he be angry or even paranoid about accusations?
Also, Davis has always had big-time power potential. He's just gotten his grasp of the strike zone under control this season, as I've pointed out several times.
Finally, Roger Maris is a pretty awesome example to point out how players can have huge power seasons that end up as career outliers while clean. The 61-homer season was his only season with more than 40 homers and he only hit more than 30 home runs in a season three times. Just having a huge home run season isn't evidence of anything. Period.
Hat-tip: Baseball Think Factory