Steve Balboni is still the Kansas City Royals’ single season home run record holder, with 36 in 1985. This is remarkable for a lot of reasons, primary among them being that a franchise has a record that would merely be a notable good season for every other franchise in the league. Since Balboni established that mark, there have been 301 seasons where a player hit at least 37 home runs. None of them have come in Kansas City, a place where fly balls go to die and that the steroid era blew past.
Here is a summary (via baseball-reference.com) of the single-season home run leader (a list that we internally struggled to get more than 50% correct on guessing before looking).
Balboni’s mark, though, is in grave danger of falling to a Moose attack this year. Mike Moustakas (who will be participating in the Home Run Derby) crushed his 24th home run yesterday, and will overtake the record if he just stays healthy and maintains a reasonable home run pace of the second half of the season.
Balboni’s record has been easily within view several times since 1985, and while curses aren’t really a thing, Balboni’s continued relevance tests that. Here’s a summary of the Royals’ leaders in home runs since 1985, and the date they hit their 24th home run.
Gary Gaetti went on a home run tear in early September (11 in the first 7 days) to move past Balboni’s pace, but then went the second half of the month without home runs after getting to 34, until adding one the final day of the season. Dean Palmer–you remember Dean Palmer’s year in Kansas City–hit only 1 over the final 15 games to come up short. Jermaine Dye got to 31 entering September, only to hit two more. Bo Jackson got to 31 before football season arrived, but then hit only 1 in the final 20 games before joining the Raiders in 1989.
Mike Moustakas, who is currently more than a month ahead of Balboni’s pace, would be advised to blow past the record and not get to September. Balboni’s fantastic mustache and large shadow can be a lot to overcome.