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Majors Home Run Race Comes Down to Final Week

05/13/2017, 9:45pm PDT
By Ted Mathias, tmathias@axway.com

Roger Maris hit his 61st home run on the final day of the 1961 season to break Babe Ruth's 60 home run mark set in 1927

Majors Home Run Race Comes Down to Final Week

We have seen some dramatic final week home runs in baseball history.

In 2011 Evan Longoria’s home run in the 11th inning put the Tampa Bay Rays in the playoffs and eliminated the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox had a 9 game lead over the Rays on September 4th but collapsed down the stretch.
The Longoria home run set the wheels in motion for Red Sox GM Theo Epstein to move to Chicago and bring the Cubs a World Series 5 years later.

In 1982 Joe Morgan’s 3 run home run at Candlestick Park knocked the Dodgers out of the playoffs.

And in 1961 Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single season home run record by hitting his 61st home run on the 162nd and final day of the season.
Ruth set the 60 home run mark in 1927 when baseball had a 154 game schedule.
1961 was an expansion year as the Los Angeles Angels and Washington Senators were added, and it marked the first year that baseball went to a 162 game schedule.
In July 1961 MLB Commissioner Ford Frick, a close friend of Babe Ruth, declared that unless Ruth’s record was broken in 154 games, it would not count.
Maris was an outsider, not as beloved as his teammate Mickey Mantle who was also chasing the record that year but got hurt in September and finished with 54 home runs.
In 1991 MLB voted to overturn Frick’s decision and officially award the home run record to Maris.
Maris would “officially” hold the record for 7 years, until Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa broke it in 1998.

Roger maris 61 small

In the SCLL Majors this season, we have our own dramatic home run race which has come down to the final week…and maybe a final swing.
Unlike last season when Henry Ollmann led wire to wire and ran away with the title, this year’s race has been a wild ride.

Evan Elwood of the Giants and Connor Chan of the Athletics lead the race with 8 home runs each.

Elwood has been here before.
He finished 2nd last season with 7 home runs and led the Giants to the 2016 Majors Championship.
Now a year later he is at the top of the home run leaderboard with 2 games left to play.

Connor Chan didn’t even play Majors last year as he spent 2016 in AAA.
But the astute Athletics coaching staff found a draft day steal in Chan this year.
Chan and a bunch of other suddenly hot bats have led the Athletics 2nd half surge all the way to first place heading into the last week.

Chan was late to the home run party.
He did not hit his first home run until a Week 7 game.
At that point five other kids were tied for the league lead with 3 home runs.
Chan had so much fun hitting that first home run in Week 7 that he hasn’t stopped hitting them since.

Checking in all alone in 3rd place in the home run race with 7 is Andrew Stewart of the Padres.
Stewart is a Paul Bunyan type presence in the batter’s box and while the Padres scuffled early, Stewart’s bat has been hot all year.
A rising tide lifts all boats, and Stewart was the early tide that lifted the Padres hitters to the point where they now all seem to be hot.
The Padres are averaging 12.2 runs in their last 5 games, and will not be a fun first round opponent to face.

Tied with 6 home runs this season are Tyler Wong of the Reds and Gavin Everett of the Astros.
We have already profiled the Reds and Astros this season and Wong and Everett have their respective teams gunning for a Top 2 spot and a first round bye.

And finally with 5 home runs we have a 3 way tie with James Tofigh of the Red Sox, Carter Friday of the Athletics, and Gael Fonseca of the Giants.

And now on to some meaningless but interesting Majors home run stats and facts…

  • Every name mentioned in this article so far, all 8 of them, are 12 year olds.

  • Of the Top 13 home run hitters, 11 of them are 12 year olds.

  • The other two are the 11 year old home run leader Jayden Weber of the Tigers and the 10 year old home run leader Clay Hinsdale of the Cubs, both with 4.

  • Of the Top 14 home run hitters, only one of them is left handed (Connor Chan – Athletics).

  • 21 players have hit more than one home run this year.  Of those 21, only 3 are left handed.

  • The other two lefties (besides Connor Chan) are Joey Lorenzini (10 years old) and Kai Apela (11 years old), both with the Reds, and both with 2 home runs.

  • Carter Friday of the Athletics is the only kid with 3 home runs in a game this year.

  • The Athletics, Padres, and Yankees are each tied for the lead with 6 different kids having hit home runs this season.

  • The Athletics lead the league with 19 home runs, the only team averaging over 1 per game.

  • The Astros lead the league in fewest home runs allowed with 6, that’s an amazing 1 home run allowed every 3 games.

It all leads to what could be a wild final week in the Majors.
Not only with the home run chase, but also the standings.
5 of the 12 teams have already clinched their seeding in AAA.
In Majors, NONE of the 10 teams have clinched their seeds.

Majors has a tradition of a wooden bat Saturday to close out the season.
So on Saturday May 13th at Arguello, you won’t hear the ping of a Mako bat, but the sweet sound of wood.
And perhaps that is fitting.
What better way for one of these young men to win the home run title on the final day of the season than with a wood bat.
Roger Maris would have it no other way.

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