Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Orioles' Davis and Machado on Record-Breaking Paces

The 2012 Baltimore Orioles were one of the most surprising playoff teams I can remember. Baltimore hadn't finished with a winning record since 1997 and had finished last in the AL East every season from 2008 to 2011, but managed to win 93 games and a spot in the wildcard game (which they then won). They did it without having a real star. Adam Jones was their top guy, but he probably wasn't one of the 20 best players in the American League (though he did finish 6th in the MVP balloting). In 2013, the O's are contending again, but this time they've also got two legitimate MVP candidates, each of whom is on an incredible pace: Chris Davis and Manny Machado.


Just 90 games into the schedule, Chris Davis has already hit 33 home runs, five more than any other player. That puts him on pace for 59. Barry Bonds' MLB record of 73 home runs is out of reach, but Roger Maris' American League record of 61 isn't, nor is Brady Anderson's franchise record* of 50 (in 1996). If Davis hits home runs at 70% the rate he's hit them so far this year, he'll beat Anderson's mark. Only four Orioles have ever hit even 40 home runs, only an injury can keep Davis from joining that company.

*All Orioles' records I refer to in this post also include the 52 seasons the team spent as the St. Louis Browns and their one year as the Milwaukee Brewers (in 1901... Who knew?!).

It hasn't just been home runs though. Davis has also hit 26 doubles, giving him 59 extra-base hits so far and putting him on pace for 106. That would be the 5th-most ever and the most in the American League since Lou Gehrig in 1927. The Orioles' record for extra-base hits is 92 (also set by Brady Anderson in 1996). As with home runs, maintaining even 70% of his current pace over the rest of the season would allow Davis to break the franchise record for extra-base hits.

All told, 57.8% of Davis' hits this year have been of the extra-base variety. I wouldn't say that's a category where we need to consider anything a record, but only seven players in history have had a season with a percentage that high (Babe Ruth, Albert Belle, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Jim Edmonds, Carlos Pena, and Jose Bautista), topped by Bonds' incredible 68.6% in 2001.

All those extra-base hits have helped Davis to 227 total bases already, putting him on pace for 409, which would be the highest total in the American League since Joe DiMaggio in 1937. No AL player has reached 400 total bases since Jim Rice in 1978 (incredibly, five NL players got there between 1997 and 2001, topped by Sammy Sosa's 425 in 2001). The Orioles' record for total bases is 399, set by George Sisler way back in 1920. Brady Anderson's 1996 places second on the list, at 369.

Davis is currently slugging .703. Only seven players have cleared .700 since expansion began in 1961 (Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas, Larry Walker, and Albert Belle). The Orioles' record is .652, by Goose Goslin in 1930. If Davis continues to collect at bats at the same rate as he has so far this season, he'd need to slug ~.590 over the rest of the season to break that mark. Davis 1.095 OPS would also break the franchise record, which is currently 1.082, also set by George Sisler in 1920.


Manny Machado hasn't had the same overall power as Davis, but he's hit a massive amount of doubles and is having one of the greatest seasons ever by a player so young (Machado turned 21 last week, 2013 is considered his age-20 season).

Machado already has 39 doubles. That puts him on pace for 70. The Major League record for doubles is 67, set by Earl Webb in 1931. No player has hit 60+ since 1936 and the Orioles' record is 56, set by Brian Roberts in 2009. Only three players in franchise history have hit 50+ doubles, but Machado is now an awfully good bet to become the fourth.

The most doubles by a player as young as Machado is 54, by Alex Rodriguez in 1996. Vada Pinson, Ted Williams, Cesar Cedeno, and Johnny Bench are the only other players that young to hit even 40 doubles, so Machado has already climbed to 6th place on that list.

Machado has 122 hits already, putting him on pace for 220. Alex Rodriguez holds the highest mark for 20 or younger players here too, with 215 hits. Ty Cobb, Buddy Lewis, Vada Pinson, and Al Kaline are the only others to get to 200 hits.

Machado is also playing strong defense at 3B, and when you look at his all around play, he's already at 5.0 bWAR Baseball-Reference) and 4.2 fWAR (Fangraphs). The top six seasons by a 20-year-old are the same at both sites (albeit in a slightly different order and with slightly different numbers), they belong to Mike Trout, Alex Rodriguez, Al Kaline, Ted Williams, Mel Ott, and Ty Cobb. That's incredible company, and Machado is well on his way to joining them.

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