Baseball 101 – Boog Powell

The last few posts we discussed some baseball numbers and I went off on some tangents. I expect some of that might have been pretty boring. This post will cover one of my favorite Orioles growing up.  First up, Boog Powell.

boog_powell_autograph

I don’t know why Boog Powell was my favorite Oriole. I expect it had something to do with him being an All-Star from 1968-1971 and the American League MVP in 1970, the period when I began paying attention to baseball and the Orioles.

You want to know the origin of Boog’s nickname? I’ve read that his father called him Booger when he was little and that got shortened to Boog. With a father like that …

Boog was signed by the Orioles in 1959 at the age of 18, right out of high school. He made his debut at 19 and became a full-time player in 1962 at the age of 20. He poked 15 homers his first year and held his own. In 1964 he led the league in slugging (.606) and his slash line was .290/.399/.606 with 39 home runs (I’ve not used this term before, but slash line refers to batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage and is written with the slashes). His OPS+ was 176. I wonder why he did not make the All-Star team in 1964. The other All-Stars from the Orioles that year were Brooks Robinson, Luis Aparicio and Norm Siebern. I think Boog was better then Norm Siebern. I’ve done some looking but I can’t figure out how the All-Star team was determined in 1964 … fan vote, player vote, or manager selection?

Anyway, Boog kept things going and was, in 1969 and 1970, part of probably the best 1-2 punch in Orioles history with Frank Robinson. Here were their stats in 1969 (Boog was second in the MVP voting and Frank Robinson was third):

  • Boog .304/.383/.559 with 37 HRs and an OPS+ of 160.
  • Frank Robinson .308/.415/.540 with 32 HRs and an OPS+ of 165.

In 1970 the pair combined for this line, with Boog winning the AL MVP:

  • Boog .297/.412/.549 with 35 HRs and an OPS+ of 163
  • Frank Robinson .306/.398/.520 with 25 HRs and an OPS+ of 151

It was an amazing stretch for the Orioles, as compared to Marc’s Senators. I moved to New Hampshire in the summer of 1970 and really did not become a Sox fan until around 1972. Fortunate timing for me. Some might call it jumping on the Sox bandwagon, but I suffered with the Sox for 34 years before they won a World Series title. Seems like a long time to be on a bandwagon, so I’d disagree with any such assessment.

  • In 1969 the O’s won 109 games and lost the World Series. The Senators won 86 games and finished 4th.
  • In 1970 the O’s won 108 games and won the World Series. The Senators won 70 games and finished last.
  • In 1971 the O’s won 101 games and lost the World Series. The Senators won 63 games and finished 5th and then skulked away to Texas.

So think about that. Marc moved, as well, to Red Sox country and he joined me in my Red Sox suffering, but I feel for him because he first had to put up with those horrible Senators teams.

A last little nugget on Boog. He owns a barbeque joint that is connected to Camden Yards where the Orioles now play – Boog’s Barbecue. Here is Wade Boggs visiting Boog’s Barbecue and chatting with Boog. Gotta love Boog cooking up a storm!

My other favorite player was Brooks Robinson and since I played third base in little league I always pretended I was him. When I was pitching, I imagined I was Oriole great Jim Palmer. Both are in the Hall of Fame, along with Frank Robinson. Boog didn’t quite make the cut. Acutally, he didn’t come very close at all in the end.  I’ll talk a bit about both Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer tomorrow.

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4 thoughts on “Baseball 101 – Boog Powell

  1. Marc Ducharme

    My feelings toward Mr. Boog have mellowed over the years. As a fellow slugger and first baseman like his neighbor and my hero in Washington, Frank Howard, I was always envious that Powell won awards, played in post seasons and was generally a better fielder and hitter. Worse. The year Frank slammed 48 singers and the Boog only something like 35, Booger won the MVP. Now that’s 1970 and I might have that wrong. But that’s my memory. And at that time in 1970 as a 9 year old, feats were measured in home runs first and Frank always hit more. It didn’t seem fair. Today I find Boogster a lovable character and a formerly agile one considering his size who put together some just monster seasons.

    Reply
  2. Marc Ducharme

    Twisting the knife a little more. Here’s a 1970s comparison of batting statistics between MVP Boog Powell and distant runner up, Frank Howard. You can see that their year stats are compatible with Howard just besting Powell in most of the categories I listed and really tried to just grab the categories that are normally associated with batters. Regardless, Powell was the MVP but should Frank have finished 5th?

    Runs
    Howard-90
    Powell-82

    Homeruns
    Howard-44
    Powell-35

    Runs Batted In
    Howard-126
    Powell-114

    BB
    Howard-132
    Powell-104

    BA
    Howard .286
    Powell .297

    OBP
    Howard .416
    Powell .412

    Slugging
    Howard .546
    Powell .549

    OPS
    Howard .962
    Powell .962

    WAR
    Howard 6.6
    Powell 5.4

    Reply
  3. Marc Ducharme

    The grass is always greener somewhere else. The 1970 MVP voting went like this:

    Boog Powell 234 votes
    Tony Oliva 157 votes
    Harmon Killebrew 152 votes
    Carl Yastremski 131 votes
    Frank Howard 91 votes

    Here’s the kicker! Yaz absolutely dominated in the aforementioned hitting categories compared with Powell and Howard with exemption homers (just 40) and RBI’s (102). Throw in Yaz’s 23 stolen bases and that’s probably 23 more than Howard and Powell combined. Yaz should be 1970 MVP.

    Reply
  4. Chris Post author

    Yes, how in the world did Boog win MVP that year? I’ll have to do some further research on this. I am intrigued if reporters of Yaz and Howard felt they got jobbed. Will have to look at Oliva and Killebrew as well. Maybe Boog made up a batch of smokin’ ribs for a bunch of voters!

    Reply

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