Chris Davis may have outslugged all of major league baseball through the first half of the season, but that momentum wasn’t enough to win the 2013 Home Run Derby.
That isn’t to say Davis put on a performance to scoff at. His eight first-round home runs were enough to advance to the second round, however just four home runs from that point on were not enough to reach the finals. Those spots were earned by Washington’s Bryce Harper and Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes, with Cespedes besting Harper 9-8.
Davis made the most of his 12 total home runs, as the longest traveled 461 feet and raised his average distance to 415 feet on the night. His home run total was the most an Oriole hit since 2004 when Miguel Tejada won the event with 27 total home runs and a round-high of 15.
Though Davis led the majors with 37 home runs at the break, his invitation to the Home Run Derby didn’t come without criticism.
Hometown fans grew concerned that an event like the derby could disrupt Davis’ swing, or perhaps tire him out as he gets readyfor the season’s homestretch. The latter isn’t likely to happen, especially considering Davis normally takes 60 swings each batting practice session and at one point took about 200. Davis took just 32 swings Tuesday night, and derby champion Cespedes took 57 swings.
But the heaviest criticisms came on the heels of suspicions of P.E.D. use, which has been directed toward him most of the season. But this isn’t just unique to Davis, as it seems to follow everyone who is amid a breakout season. It happened with Toronto’s Jose Bautista, who hit 54 home runs in 2010, and it’s happening today with Davis despite only clean test results to date.
“I understand it comes with the territory,” Davis told WNST’s Nestor Aparicio. “I mean, I get tested just like everyone else. I’ve been tested a number of times this year. Time will tell. That’s basically what I have on my side right now.”
What Davis also has on his side is history, because it’s not as if his power numbers are from out of nowhere. His scouting report has always touted massive power potential, and in addition to his 33 home runs in 2012 and his 21 in part-time duty during 2009 , he also logged 36 in just 129 games of minor-league ball in the 2007 season. The 2013 season isn’t so much an anomaly, but a culmination of what he’s worked for thus far. Adjustments in preparation and approach have led to a better familiarization of the strike zone.
With 66 games remaining on the Orioles’ schedule, Davis still has time to rack-up even more staggering numbers. And as long as that progresses, it seems as though he’ll always face these unfounded accusations.
But like most of the baseball world, that hasn’t stopped Davis from giving himself his due.
“I celebrate it all the time,” he said. “I don’t think it’s anything you have to hang your head about. I think if you’re proud of it and if you have nothing to hide, you should celebrate it.”
Baltimore’s Next Sports Media Superstar contestant Dan Ciarrocchi is an editor of Hogs Haven, an SB Nation website. He also contributes to the fantasy football section of Pro Football Focus and covered Towson University baseball for two years at The Towerlight.