Unless you’re a fan of the Baltimore Orioles, a family member or a friend, it’s not likely you’ll know Chris “Crash’’ Davis.
As an introduction, he plays first base, leads the majors in home runs with 33, and has garnered more All-Star votes than any other player.
At the pace Davis is trudging along, he has a real chance to approach the magical 60 homer plateau, which has been reached by Barry Bonds, who topped 73, Mark McGwire, who drilled 70 and 65, Sammy Sosa, who finished with 66, 64, and 63, Roger Maris, who cracked 61, and Babe Ruth, who swatted 60.
The first three members played during what has been called the “steroid era,’’ and as such many don’t consider these legitimate totals. The latter two were done without the help of any foreign substance.
“I know those other players hit more than 60 homers in a season, but I consider the home run record to be held by Roger Maris,’’ said Davis recently. “Those other guys were great players, but most think they got there through artificial means.’’
When asked his baseball philosophy, Davis, who is second in the big league with 85 runs batted in, third in runs scored with 63, has 26 doubles and owns a .320 batting average, said it’s fairly simple. “I try to go out every day and play hard,’’ he explained. “I’m not trying to hit home runs. Sometimes they come and sometimes they don’t.”
With Manager Buck Showalter showing the way, the Orioles qualified for the playoffs in 2012, and extended the New York Yankees to five games before falling in the American League Divisional Series.
Through last Sunday, the Orioles (49-40) were tied for second place in the AL East four and a half games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox.
For those who think Davis’ 33 homers came out of the blue, they really didn’t. Just last season, Davis finished with 33 and drove in 85 runs.
Baltimore’s home ballpark is Camden Yards, and because it’s fairly compact, especially to right center and left center, it’s conducive to home runs.
Add to the mix that the 27-year-old Davis is 6-foot-3 and tips the scale at 230 pounds, so it makes sense he’s capable of driving the baseball a long way.
Rex Hudler, who played 13 years in the big league, and has been a longtime television analyst, always said that some players blossom late. For Davis, this fits the bill.
Davis grew up in Longview, Texas, played shortstop in high school, and was the stud player. In 2004, he was drafted in the 50th round by the Yankees, but didn’t sign.
A year later, Davis was selected in the 35th round by the Angels, and once again failed to sign. The following year, the Texas Rangers picked the local talent in the fifth round, and he inked a deal and began his career in 2008 with modest success as he hammered 17 homers, drove in 55 runs and finished with a .285 batting average.
Davis’ totals in 2009 improved to 21 homers and 59 RBIs, but his average dipped to .238. Over the next two seasons, Davis was limited to 45 and 59 games, and was eventually traded to Baltimore in July, 2011, where he has made a home and has many adoring fans.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.