Matthew Taylor: Tallying reasons to watch O’s despite recent struggles

Let’s face it, being an Orioles fan has been a depressing proposition of late. Not quite 14 consecutive losing seasons depressing, mind you, but depressing all the same. If the 2014 season was exhilarating - and it was - the 2015 season has been exhausting.

Judging from the recent Orioles commentary on Twitter, fan reactions to the team’s struggles have included equal parts hostility and humor. OK, there’s actually nothing equal about it. Ours is a hostile fan base right now.

Given the anger, I appreciated the escape provided this week by the following Tweet from diehard O’s fan Lila Shapiro-Cyr: “Let’s make a list. Reasons to watch O’s despite their free fall. 1. Manny Machado, the human highlight reel.”

My immediate reply was as follows: “To see if Chris Davis can become the 1st Orioles batter with multiple 40-homer seasons.” Earlier this month, I wrote about Davis’ quest to establish Orioles home run history once more. His chase is one of the breaks in the clouds that seem to have set in over the team of late.

Davis could have company this season when it comes to historic homers. Given the respective paces of Adam Jones (barring a trip to the DL) and Manny Machado, the pair could combine with Davis to make franchise history as the first three Orioles batters to eclipse 30 homers in the same season.

Two batters have tallied 30 or more homers in the same season for the Orioles seven different times. That list is as follows:

* Boog Powell (34) and Frank Robinson (49) in 1966; Powell (37) and Robinson (32) again in 1969.
* Eddie Murray (30) and Larry Sheets (31) in 1987.
* Rafael Palmeiro (39) and Brady Anderson (50) in 1996.
J.J. Hardy (30) and Mark Reynolds (37) in 2011.
Jones (32) and Davis (33) in 2012; Jones (33) and Davis (53) again in 2013.

Almost all of the aforementioned seasons included a near-miss involving a third batter chasing 30 home runs. Bobby Bonilla offered the closest call in 1996 when he fell two home runs shy of joining Raffy and Brady in the 30-homer club.

In hindsight, it’s surprising that the 1996 team didn’t have a third batter with 30 home runs. Overall, seven batters totaled more than 20 homers as part of the team’s franchise-best total of 257. Ripken (26), Chris Hoiles (25), Roberto Alomar (22) and B.J. Surhoff (21) were the others in the group.

Next up on the near-miss list was Ripken in 1987; he was three homers shy of joining Murray and Sheets with 30 homers. Meanwhile, Paul Blair hit 26 home runs in 1969, Adam Jones had 25 in 2011 and J.J. Hardy had 25 in 2013.

Do you think Davis, Machado, and Jones will make history as the O’s first 30-homer trio? What would you add to Lila’s list of reasons to watch the O’s despite the freefall?

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. Follow him on Twitter: @RoarFrom34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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