On Tuesday evening, Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis launched a 445-foot home run to center field off Tampa Bay’s James Shields to place himself in elite company. It marked his sixth-consecutive game in which he hit at least one home run, making him the 19th player in Major League history to accomplish that feat.
In the American League, the last player to hit a home run in at least six-consecutive games was Kevin Mench in April 2006, but some of the other names include Lou Gehrig, Roger Maris, Jim Thome, and Reggie Jackson (the only other Baltimore Orioles player). The longest stretch of consecutive games with at least one home run is eight games, which is held by three players — Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly, and Dale Long.
Any consecutive-game streak concerning home runs is impressive, but Davis’ stands out even more because he has not heavily benefited from luck. Each one of his home runs during this streak have been classified by HitTracker as a “plenty” home run — or a home run that clears the fence with plenty of distance. These home runs are not barely scraping over the wall or being aided by wind.
Here are some of the specifics of the home runs, including the number of ballparks in which the home run would have still been a home run.
Six of his seven home runs would have been home runs in at least 23 parks across Major League Baseball, which HitTracker says was the average in 2011. It’s just more evidence that Chris Davis hasn’t been hitting any cheap or lucky home runs over this consecutive-game streak.
This hot streak hasn’t been confined to this recent home run streak, though. He also has the highest wOBA (.457) and wRC+ (193) of anyone in baseball during September and October. It’s no coincidence that the Orioles have scored the second most runs in the league over that time frame. The entire month has been ridiculous for Davis. The six-consecutive games with a home run has merely shed light on just how good he has been in September and October.
Although Davis (a career +1.4-win player) appears rather out of place amongst American League players who have hit home runs in six-consecutive games, the 26-year-old has always had prestigious power. It was simply a matter of whether his hit tool would play up enough to allow that power to become playable over 162-game season. With a .272 batting average and .351 wOBA, he certainly hit enough to not be a power-only bat, though his 15.3% swinging strike rate and 29.7% K% suggests this improved batting average may not be here to stay. Plenty of swing-and-miss still exists in his game.
For now, though, those contact questions can be put aside. He has helped anchor this Baltimore Orioles’ batting order, and all eyes will be on him Wednesday evening, as he attempts to extend his streak to seven games.
Chris Davis will square off against right-hander Jeremy Hellickson on Wednesday, which appears to be a solid matchup for the Orioles’ slugger. Hellickson has compiled a 1.23 HR/9 home run rate against left-handed batters this season, while 26 of Davis’ 33 home runs have come off right-handed pitchers in 2012.
A home run on Wednesday evening would make Davis only the seventh player in Major League history to hit a home run in at least seven-consecutive games, and just the fifth in American League history. Quite the feat for a young man who has bounced between Triple-A and the Major Leagues in each of the past four seasons.
J.P. Breen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. For analysis on the Brewers and fantasy baseball, you can follow him on Twitter (@JP_Breen).