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Jonathan Schoop brings rare power at second base, Chris Davis' power just plain rare

During Sunday evening's game – after Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop had hit his first homer of the night, but before he smacked his second – a reader on Twitter asked me what the over-under for Schoop homers in 2016 should be.

The guy suggested 30.

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At first blush, that seems exceptionally unfair. Schoop doesn't turn 24 until next month. He's never had a 500 at-bat season in the majors. So expecting 30 home runs from him – or putting that number as the potential bar – seems way too high.

But is it?

Consider this: Schoop has 14 homers in 244 at-bats over 69 games this season – a year truncated by a knee injury that cost him half of April and all of May and June. If you extrapolate that power display for 162 games, he'd be on pace for 33 homers.

Also, he now has 29 homers since the beginning of the 2014 season. That's third most for a second baseman in the majors, behind only Minnesota's Brian Dozier (50) and Pittsburgh's Neil Walker (36). In that span, Schoop has played 190 games at second base while Dozier has logged 295 and Walker, 262.

But how unusual is 30 homers for an Orioles second baseman?

It's never happened. In fact, 20 homers has been reached only once in modern club history by a second baseman, according to research at baseball-reference.com.

Roberto Alomar hit 22 homers for the Orioles in 1996 and 20 came while he was playing second base. That's the high-water mark for an Orioles second baseman.

Schoop likely would have hit that milestone if he would have stayed healthy in 2015.

So I say err on the conservative side. Set Schoop's bar at over-under 20 homers in 2016 and see what happens.

** I wrote a few days ago that with every big fly, Chris Davis is further homering his way out of Baltimore. The amount of money this man, who doesn't turn 30 until March, will earn in the offseason is going to be mind-blowing.

That kind of power is just so hard to find. And the largest contract the Orioles have ever doled out to a free agent is six years, $72 million to Miguel Tejada before the 2004 season. They did give $85.5 million to Adam Jones in 2012 to extend his contract. But Davis' payday is likely going to double the worth of that one.

So you might as well enjoy this impressive ride while it lasts. Davis did it again Sunday night, a solo shot in the fifth to break a tie with his buddy, Seattle's Nelson Cruz, for the major league lead with 42.

Just about every home run Davis hits for the rest of the season will mean something in the franchise's record books.

He now has 91 home runs at Camden Yards, tying current front office executive Brady Anderson for third-most in stadium history. Only Rafael Palmeiro (124) and Adam Jones (106) have more.

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When Davis hits his next home run, he'll move into a tie for fifth with Palmeiro (in 1998) for most homers in a season by an Oriole (43).

He probably won't be able to touch his franchise record of 53 in 2013 – he'd need 11 in the club's final 20 games to tie it – but he still could move up the ranks.

Jim Gentile's 46 in 1961 are fourth, Frank Robinson's 49 in 1966 are third and Anderson's 50 in 1996 are second.

** Wei-Yin Chen's line looked excellent on Sunday night in the 8-2 win against the Royals: seven innings pitched, six hits, two earned runs, no walks and two strikeouts. Chen said he was pleased with the performance – especially after two consecutive rough outings.

"During the past two starts, maybe I was trying too hard, maybe I was kind of over-thinking and I couldn't stay calm in the game," Chen said through an interpreter after the game. "So today I was just focusing on my pitching and hoped that I can do better than the previous two starts."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter pointed out an important facet of Sunday's game. The Royals stung a lot of Chen's pitches, but the club's defense behind him made some tremendous plays. And that kept Chen's line intact.

Really, that's always been the key with these Orioles. If the defense is on, the starter can have the confidence to pitch to contact. So long, of course, that the contact stays in the park. Chen didn't allow a homer Sunday; in his previous two starts he gave up four longballs in 9 2/3 innings.

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