The Chris “Crash” Davis watch is going to be a must-see during MLB’s second half. In fact, the more homers he hits, the more his name will become a household one and garner national interest from non-baseball cats. After all, everybody loves a winner and the old Nike baseball commercial told you that “chicks dig the long ball.”
Baltimore's super-slugger banged an improbable 37 homers by the all-star break, tying Reggie Jackson’s AL record of 37 set in ‘69. The best player of the 90s, Ken Griffey Jr., had 35 in ‘98 and Roger Maris had 33 at the break the year he broke Babe Ruth’s homer record with 61 blasts. Mark McGwire, one of the poster-sluggers for baseball’s Steroids Era, hit 33 by the break in ‘87.
Davis’ long-ball prowess will be on display Monday night as he leads his four-man AL squad of ball mashers against David Wright’s NL squad in the Home Run Derby. Joining Davis is former winner, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes and two-time champ Prince Fielder.
Pirates’ slugger Pedro Alvarez, Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer, and the bearded-one Bryce Harper (Washington) round out the NL clique.
Davis is having one of those seasons that make him the favorite to win any competition that requires hitting balls a long distance. It’s far-fetched, but if Davis can match his power numbers (in less games) in the second half of the season, then he would break Barry Bonds’ PED-tainted single-season record of 73, set in that historic ’01 campaign, when baseball’s career homerun king also set the MLB record for homers at the break with 39.
At the very least Maris’ AL record of 61 is just 24 dingers away, but baseball has a way of evening out the numbers game. Just ask Jackson, who only managed 10 homers in the second half of his brilliant 1969 season.
The 162-game grind, pressure of pennant races and unrelenting media attention can get to a hitter. How Crash Davis handles his newfound celebrity, and the meticulous way pitchers are sure to pitch him down the stretch, will be the key.