David Schoenfield, ESPN Senior Writer 98d

Real or not? Forget Aaron Judge, Khris Davis is your new AL home run king

For the first time since May 27, Aaron Judge does not sit atop the American League's home run leaderboard. That's because the Oakland Athletics' Khris Davis homered in a 3-1 victory over the Angels.

It's not a surprise that Davis now leads the league with his 39 home runs. After all, he hit 42 last season for the A's after coming over from the Brewers in what has turned into a steal of a deal for Oakland. Davis, a 5-foot-10 left fielder with a bodybuilder's physique, is a prototype of today's all-or-nothing slugger. He's hitting .241 and is tied with Judge for the major league lead in strikeouts with 182, but hits enough balls over the fence and has upped his walk rate to make himself a valuable weapon at the plate. The strange thing about his season is that Wednesday's home run off Tyler Skaggs was just his fourth off a left-hander and he's hitting under .200 against them.

What's even stranger is the rest of the AL leaders in home runs. It's the unlikeliest list that I can remember.

Judge (38 home runs): Nobody doubted Judge's raw power, but he's almost matched the total number of home runs he hit over the past two seasons in the minors (39).

Justin Smoak (37): He had a career-high of 20 home runs in seven previous seasons and hadn't even been a full-time regular since 2013. He started the All-Star Game and has kept it going in the second half.

Joey Gallo (37): He was certainly a highly touted power prospect coming up through the minors, and only Giancarlo Stanton and Judge can match his raw power, but after receiving just 30 plate appearances with the Rangers in 2016, he had no defined role with the team. Then Adrian Beltre injured his calf late in spring training and started the season on the disabled list, opening up a spot for Gallo. He homered just in the first 14 games, but then hit five in eight games and hasn't slowed down.

Mike Moustakas (36): Previous career-high is 22.

Logan Morrison (36): He has followed the Smoak route, dumped by the Mariners and suddenly hitting for power later in his career. He pinch-hit Wednesday after hitting seven homers in his previous eight games to climb the list.

After that, we get some more familiar names: Edwin Encarnacion, the streaking Manny Machado, Nelson Cruz -- although Jonathan Schoop, with 31 home runs, is also in the top 10 and having one of the best power seasons ever from a second baseman.

As the season powers its way to the all-time single-season home run record, the interesting thing is the increase in home runs hasn't come from the guys at the top, but from the guys in the middle and at the bottom. We're not seeing more 40-homer guys, but we're seeing a lot more 20-homer guys. There are already 93 players with at least 20 home runs with another 24 sitting on 18 or 19. The record is 111 20-homer players, set last season. When the record of 5,693 home runs was set in 2000, there were 102 20-homer seasons.

Basically, the distribution of home runs has become a flatter curve. The livelier ball has helped guys like Smoak or Elvis Andrus or Brett Gardner more than it has helped the true power guys (yes, Stanton may hit 60, but that may be as much due to good health and changing his stance as his benefiting from the juiced ball).

Indians win again! Diamondbacks win again! The Indians tied their franchise record with a 14-game winning streak, beating the Triple-A club known as the White Sox 5-1. Carlos Carrasco just missed the shutout as Adam Engel hit a two-out home run in the ninth. (We should actually celebrate shutouts more than we do: There have been just 23 all season.)

Anyway, the Indians also won 14 in a row last season, so they're just the third franchise to have 14-game win streaks in consecutive seasons, joining the 1934-35 Cubs and 1912-13 Giants. They've averaged seven runs per game in this stretch while posting a 1.86 ERA. Brad Doolittle has more on Carrasco's performance.



Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks swept the Dodgers for the second time in a week for their 13th win in a row, which sets a franchise record. The scores of those six games: 7-6, 6-4, 8-1, 13-0, 3-1 and 3-1 again on Wednesday. Taijuan Walker allowed one run in six innings and drove in a run with an RBI double -- although the Dodgers did lead 1-0, the first time the D-backs had trailed in 11 games. Walker has allowed just two runs over his past four starts, lowering his ERA to 3.33, which would rank seventh in the National League except he's a couple innings short of qualifying for the leaderboard. Arizona also played again without Paul Goldschmidt, but he's expected back in the lineup on Friday.

Have to love these dueling win streaks. The last team to win 15 in a row was the 2002 A's, who had that famous 20-game winning streak -- the longest in AL history.

As for the Dodgers, they've now lost 11 of 12. Amazingly, the team that won 52 of 61 games joins the Reds, Phillies, Giants and White Sox as the only teams to lose 11 of 12 this season. You can't predict baseball.

Wild card winner of the night. The Twins snapped a three-game losing skid with a 10-6 win over the Rays. Combined with the Angels' loss, they moved a half-game ahead of the Angels for the second wild card. One reason for the Twins' surge since the beginning of August has been Brian Dozier. He hit his 29th home run, and since Aug. 1 he has hit .304/.411/.616 with 12 home runs, 28 RBIs and 35 runs in 35 games. It's the second straight season he has turned in one late; last year, he hit 23 home runs in August and September.

Wild card loser of the night. A brutal series in Cincinnati for the Brewers as the Reds won 7-1 to complete a three-game sweep. By the way, remember when Eric Thames was the story of baseball back in April when he hit 11 home runs in the team's first 22 games? Since that hot start, he has hit .207/.319/.421.

A positive note about the Giants. The Giants beat the Rockies 11-3 behind a 17-hit attack, with Joe Panik going 5-for-6. Panik finished with 12 hits in three-game series, tying a record for a three-game series in the live ball era, last done by Jerry Remy of the Red Sox in 1981. Remy did it in a three-game series at Fenway against the Mariners -- but he benefited from going 6-for-10 in that 20-inning game we mentioned here on Tuesday. That's right, you just got back-to-back mentions of a 20-inning game from 1981. We'll see if we can work that game into this post again on Thursday night. As for Panik, he raised his average from .267 to .285.

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