The record is the record, and Bonds is the single-season home run champion. What people believe or desire shouldn’t factor into the argument; well, you can argue, but I’m not buying. We can’t pretend that Bonds didn’t hit 73; we can’t wipe out an entire era and pretend it didn’t exist. Barry Bonds hit 73 baseballs over the fence in 2001, and 73 is the record.
But brace yourself for a non-ending stream of columns, sports radio chatter, Twitter posts and the like. When Davis appears before the media on Monday in New York in preparation for the All-Star Game, he’s going to be mobbed more than other player: Can you do it?
Look, it’s an amazing story. Davis is now slugging .717. Not including Davis this season, there have been 35 seasons in which a player slugged .700—and all but four occurred in the 1920s and ‘30s, or between 1994 to 2004. The four outlier seasons: Ted Williams in 1941 and 1957, Stan Musial in 1948 and Mickey Mantle in 1956. Davis’ performance would remain historic in nature, no matter his final home run tally.
...One thing working against Davis, however, is that Buck Showalter continues to hit Davis fifth in the order, choosing to bat Adam Jones cleanup between lefties Nick Markakis and Davis. That will cost Davis plate appearances over the season—an estimated 30 over the entire year, if he was hitting third instead of fifth—and those 30 missing PAs could be the difference between 59 and 62. With Matt Wieters not having a great year behind him, Davis may also start receiving more walks (although July has produced his lowest walk rate of the season, so pitchers haven’t been pitching around him).
Hey, I hope he makes 62 an interesting number to watch for in late September. A lot of fans will consider 61 the record and that will make for a fun, engaging stretch drive if Davis gets close. It won’t be The Record but it will get people watching baseball, and that’s a good thing.