A stat called isolated power is another way to measure a player’s pop; it tells you how many extra bases he has accumulated per at-bat. With a mark of .349 before Saturday night, Davis ranked far ahead of No. 2 Cabrera and was on track for a top-50 season all time. of all-time.
If clutch hitting is your fixation, Davis delivered that as well. Entering the weekend, he was hitting .313 with 11 homers in late-and-close situations, defined as plate appearances in the seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one or with the tying run at least on deck. He was hitting .362 with two outs and runners in scoring position.
You need your homers long and majestic? Davis leads the league in “no-doubt” shots, defined by ESPN’s Home Run Tracker as balls that clear the fence by at least 20 vertical feet and land at least 50 feet beyond it. Of course, he also leads in homers that barely cleared the wall. The man has simply hit a lot of home runs in 2013.
Despite his record-setting total, it’s not clear that Davis has authored the best offensive season in Orioles history. He’s on pace to lead the AL in homers, RBIs and total bases and to finish in the top three in OPS — on-base plus slugging — and offensive wins above replacement, the most popular tell-all number in the analytics community.
But in 1966, Frank Robinson not only won the Triple Crown, he also led the league in on-base percentage, slugging, runs scored and every advanced offensive statistic on the books. It’s an awfully tough hill to surmount.
The obvious question now: Can Davis do it again?
Raising the bar
History suggests he won’t simply fade away. The list of players who hit at least 53 homers in a season isn’t crammed with flukes. Of the 16 other players who have cleared that mark, only three — Maris, Luis Gonzalez and Hack Wilson — failed to hit at least 40 home runs in another season. Eight of the 16 posted at least one other 50-homer season.
Davis knows he will enter next season facing a level of outside expectation he’s never experienced. If he returns to his 2012 level — 33 home runs would’ve placed him top 10 in the majors this year — fans will crinkle their noses.
But he doesn’t seem concerned.
“I’ve expected it for myself for a long time,” he said. “I had struggles in Texas, and I think that’s where I got away from it. I tried to be a player that everybody else wanted me to be instead of the player I knew I was capable of being. Obviously, when you hit 50-plus home runs in a season, you’re going to draw some attention to yourself, but I just hope that everybody counts on me to be there every day and compete. The numbers are going to be there at the end of the season.”
Showalter was impressed at the way Davis analyzed his 2012 season and grew from it. So he also sounded unconcerned about the expectations facing his first baseman.
“If we took a poll of how many home runs Chris Davis is going to hit next year or how many runs he’s going to drive in, you’d probably get a wide variance, which tells you how hard it is to do and how unpredictable a lot of things are,” he said. “That’s why we always reach for the things we know can be consistent, like defense and effort.”
Neither did Davis seem nervous about the contract talk that will percolate as free agency approaches after the 2015 season.
“I would love to stay in Baltimore,” he said. “This has been a place where I really feel like I’ve been accepted and loved and really appreciated. And that’s rare, especially in this game, to find a place where you can call it home.”