After Hyun Soo Kim went deep in last night’s loss to Seattle, the O’s have officially hit more home runs in June than any other team in MLB history. That’s pretty impressive, but now that it’s over and done with, we can set our sights on something even more impressive: the team home run record for a full season.
Prior to Opening Day, the O’s were mentioned as a team that could make a run at the single-season mark of 264 home runs, set by the Seattle Mariners in 1997. The combination of the powerful O’s lineup and the hitter-friendly Oriole Park seemed like a perfect mixture to threaten that total.
The various pre-season projection models had the O’s finishing with a hell of a lot of home runs, but still a good bit short of 264. Steamer projected 220 homers for the Birds this year and the Fangraphs Depth Chart projections had the O’s down for a slightly more optimistic 237.
Despite the abundance of power in the lineup, a lot of things would have to go right for the O’s to outperform their pre-season projections by 30-45 homers. Here’s the good news - a lot of those things have gone right. Depending on where you look, Mark Trumbo was projected for a home run total in the 25-30 range. Considering he has 23 now, it’s safe to assume he’ll go higher than that.
Other players like Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop look like they could surpass their projected home run totals, too. We can look at the updated projections to see how much of an effect the torrid start has had: Fangraphs Depth Charts now predicts 130 more homers on the year for a total of 254, and Steamer’s got a similar total of 250.
Now we’re getting close! Still, though, those extra 10-15 home runs have to come from somewhere. Here are Steamer’s updated individual projections for the O’s:
|Chris Davis||39||J.J. Hardy||9|
|Mark Trumbo||39||Nolan Reimold||8|
|Manny Machado||33||Ryan Flaherty||7|
|Adam Jones||32||Hyun Soo Kim||4|
|Pedro Alvarez||25||Francisco Pena||2|
|Jonathan Schoop||24||Caleb Joseph||2|
|Matt Wieters||16||Dariel Alvarez||1|
Hyun Soo Kim stands out here as someone who should surpass their total - Kim has four homers already and it seems like the models haven't fully accounted for his increase in playing time yet. Mark Trumbo could also keep up his blistering pace from the first half and get into the low 40s. Jonathan Schoop is sitting on 13 homers now with 84 games to go; he hit 15 bombs in 86 games last season and could get into the high 20s if he can manage a similar pace the rest of the way.
Players like Schoop and Kim can help the team get close to the record, but at the end of the day, we know whose shoulders will carry the biggest load if the O's manage to get to 264. In case you forgot, the Orioles employ the 2013 and 2015 MLB home run leader, and Chris Davis is sitting on 19 homers right now. Care to guess how many homers Davis had at the end of June last year? Yep, he had just 18 homers on this day in 2015.
You know what happened next. Davis went bananas in the second half and finished with 47 dingers on the year - a repeat performance this year would close more than half of the gap between the rest-of-season projections and the record. If the O's are going to pull it off, this is probably how it's going to happen: Crush Davis going into God Mode in the second half while the rest of the team continues to hit home runs at a pace similar to what they've done so far.
Obviously, plenty of things needed to go the Orioles' way for them to break, or even threaten, the all-time record. Fortunately, many of those things seem to be coming true. It's still unlikely that the O's actually get there - it's really, really hard to hit 264 home runs in a season, which is why only one team has ever done it. The fact that we're even talking about this is a testament to how impressive this year's display of power in Birdland has been.
That's why they play the games, though. If the O's are blessed with good health and good luck the rest of the year, they're close enough to the record pace that they could really do this. Either way, it should make for a fascinating storyline for what's shaping up to be an exciting second half in Baltimore.