[07/25/13 Editor's note: Thanks to a sweet Tweet from Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri), we're reminded of this article by former BtBS author and current Rays analyst Peter Bendix. Five years later, Chris Davis has 37 home runs through this date in the baseball season. Enjoy Peter's powers of forecasting!]
RJ’s post about the next .400 hitter got me thinking – are we ever going to see another 70 home run hitter?
Certainly, hitting 70 homers is quite difficult - only two players have ever done this, and only two players even managed 40 homers in 2008. But one player comes to mind as having perhaps the most reasonable chance to smack 70 homers: Rangers slugger Chris Davis.
Let’s take a look at Chris Davis, and see what would have to happen for this young star-in-the-making to reach the 70 homer milestone. It would take quite the confluence of events (this formula can generally be applied to other hitters, too).
Here are some necessary steps:
Get a lot of plate appearances. The best way to do this is to hit the near the top (ideally first or second, but more realistically third) of one of the best lineups in the game. This would get you a lot of PAs.
Michael Young got 700 plate appearances for the Rangers last year. Let’s use this as a starting point, and assume that, as the #3 hitter in a very good offense,
Minimize the strikeouts…and the walks.
But in order to hit so many homers, you have to minimize the amount of walks as well. While
Hit lots of fly balls. In 2008,
Hit those fly balls a long way. In order for
120 non-HR hits + 70 homers = 190 hits in 651 at bats (700 PAs minus 51 walks) for a batting average of .292.
190 hits + 51 walks = 241 times on men in 700 plate appearances, for an on-base percentage of .344.
70 homers, three triples, 41 doubles, 76 singles for 447 total bases, good for a slugging percentage of .687.
Obviously, this would be a perfect storm of events – lots of plate appearances, relatively few walks or strikeouts, lots of fly balls, and a high rate of fly balls becoming homers. However, none of these assumptions are terribly far-fetched.
Hitting 70 homers is an extremely difficult feat that may never happen again. But Chris Davis may have as good of a chance as any current player in baseball.