Entering play Tuesday night, Brian Dozier has been on a home run tear that is not just impressive but legitimately historic.
The damage: 31 home runs in his last 70 games going back to June 19. That’s a pace for a staggering 72 home runs over a 162-game season — meaning that if Dozier could somehow keep up the pace over the course of 6 months instead of 2.5 and could play every game, he would challenge Barry Bonds’ all-time single-season home run record of 73 set in 2001.
Of course, that kind of pace is rarely sustainable over the course of a season. That’s why Bonds — even with his faults — has a place in history.
Perhaps just as impressively is how Dozier’s 70-game run compares to what Babe Ruth did in 1927, when he set the home run record with 60 dingers in a season — a record that stood for 34 years until Roger Maris clubbed 61 in 1961.
In 1927, Babe Ruth never had a 70-game span in which he hit 31 home runs. The most I can find is his final 70 games of the season, in which he hit 30 — fueled by a scorching hot September in which he hit 17 home runs for the Yankees.
So you are reading this correctly: Brian Dozier — the second baseman for the Twins, the same one who was lousy for much of the second half of last season and the first 2.5 months of this season, the same guy who had never hit more than 28 home runs in a season before this year — has put together a 70-game home run binge that is more impressive than any similar stretch of games for BABE RUTH during the season in which he set an all-time record that stood for nearly three-and-half decades.
As for Maris, he did have a 70-game stretch between mid-May and late July in which he hit 37 homers. For the rest of the 91 games he played that season, Maris “only” hit 24 homers.
It should also be noted that the 1961 Yankees went 48-22 during Maris’ binge and went 51-19 in 1927 during Ruth’s best home run tear down the stretch. The Twins? They went a disappointing 31-39 during Dozier’s 70-game stretch.
You can view that one of two ways: 1) Dozier’s streak is made even more impressive because he clearly doesn’t have the same caliber supporting cast around him. 2) Dozier has benefited from having less pressure on him during a lost Twins season.
In the end, it probably doesn’t matter. There can be no quibbling with how impressive it is for one batter to hit that many home runs in a 70-game span.
If you’re wondering about Bonds and his record-breaking 2001 season, by the way: it remains an absurd statistical marvel. He played just 153 games and drew 177 walks — giving him a .515 on-base percentage for the season and just 476 official at-bats.
Bonds hit 39 home runs in his first 70 games … and 33 home runs in his final 70 games (with a dry spell of just one HR in 13 games in the middle of those two runs).
But there is other way to look at Dozier’s amazing run: from June 19-Sept. 5, the same time frame Dozier hit 31? Bonds hit just 23 that season.