The Baltimore Orioles Are Bashing Their Way to the Top of the American League

The O's set a record for home runs hit in June, and it's translating to success. Can they best the Red Sox in the division?

Don't look now, but dingers are back. Baseball is once again flush with the home run, with teams hitting balls out of the yard at a near-record pace.

So far this season, through Thursday's action, there have been 2,717 home runs hit in Major League Baseball. Projected over a full season, that puts baseball on pace for 5,643 taters this season, which would be the second-most in baseball history, behind only the year 2000, when 5,692 homers were bashed at the height of the steroid era.

And while it's not true that the Baltimore Orioles are responsible for just about all those long balls, they are responsible for quite a few of them.

The Orioles' 56 dingers last month were 9 more than the Toronto Blue Jays' 47 and puts Baltimore's season total at 125. They're on pace to smash 260 home runs (rounding up), which would come close to setting the all-time record for most homers in a single season, held by the Seattle Mariners in 1997.

Rank Team Year Games HR
1 Seattle Mariners 1997 162 264
2 Texas Rangers 2005 162 260
3 Baltimore Orioles 1996 162 257
4 Toronto Blue Jays 2010 162 257
5 Houston Astros 2000 162 249

And those 56 home runs hit by the Orioles in June were the second-most ever hit in a single month, almost breaking their own record.

1Baltimore OriolesMay19872858
1Seattle MarinersMay19992758
2Baltimore OriolesJune20162856
2Cincinnati RedsSept/Oct19993256
2Toronto Blue JaysSept/Oct20103056
3St. Louis CardinalsApril/March20002555
3Seattle MarinersAugust19973055
3Texas RangersAugust19993055
3Oakland A'sAugust19992955
3New York GiantsJuly19473055
3Boston Red SoxJuly20032755
3Oakland A'sJune19962955
3Minnesota TwinsMay19643055
3Atlanta BravesMay20032855

The O's fence-clearing team has been surprisingly led by offseason signee Mark Trumbo, who has smacked an MLB-best 23 home runs, tied with Chicago's Todd Frazier. Two other Orioles are also among the top 20 in the Majors in taters, Chris Davis with 19 (tied for 8th), and Manny Machado with 18 (tied for 17th). Adam Jones has pitched in with another 16 for good measure, and second baseman Jonathan Schoop has 13.

All these homers have helped Baltimore (47-31) take a surprising five-game lead in the American League East over the Boston Red Sox, who have actually scored more total runs than the O's this season (Boston leads baseball with 434 runs scored, Baltimore is fifth with 403). The Sox also have a higher weighted runs created (wRC+) as a team than the Orioles (114 to 111).

Baltimore's slight advantage in pitching (their team ERA of 4.25 is slightly better than Boston's 4.36) has allowed them to nose ahead of Boston, with their recent seven-game winning streak was snapped Thursday night in Seattle. But thanks to their homer binge, the Orioles went 19-9 last month, keeping them on top of their division.

Can the O's keep this up? They play half their games in a park that is conducive to going deep, with Camden Yards yielding the second-most home runs per game last season (1.415), so the homer barrage should continue.

Whether that will allow them to stay ahead of Boston all summer, a team that also has a great offense, remains to be seen. But if you dig the long ball, then the Orioles are the team for you.