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Greatest Seasons in O’s History: Left Field

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The 2014 season will be a special one for the Baltimore Orioles, and not just because there are postseason dreams around Birdland. The O’s will celebrate 60 years in Baltimore, which presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on great players and memories since 1954.

In the spirit of the occasion I’ve decided to highlight some of the great individual seasons we’ve witnessed from 1954-2013. First up is left field.

 

Boog Powell , 1964

290/.399/.606 – 74 runs, 17 doubles, 39 home runs, 99 RBI

When most of us think of Powell, we think of him digging balls out of the dirt at first base; rightfully so, because over his 17-year career he played the overwhelming majority of his games at that position. But, in 1964 he started 114 of his 134 games in left field.

Powell’s 39 home runs stand as has his career-high and are tied for the most in a single season by an Oriole left fielder with Ken Williams of the 1922 St. Louis Browns.

Powell’s .606 slugging percentage paced the American League that year and the .399 on-base percentage he posted was good enough for third.

Since 1954, there have been just five Oriole players with an OPS north of 1.000 in a single-season. As you can probably guess, Powell’s 1964 season is one of them.

 

Brady Anderson, 1992

.271/.373/.449 – 100 runs, 28 doubles, 10 triples, 21 home runs, 80 RBI, 53 stolen bases

Anderson was named to three All-Star Games during his 15-year career. The first came in 1992, a year in which 148 of the 159 games Anderson appeared in came as a left fielder.

He was third in the American League in triples, steals, and times on base (276). Anderson was second only to Frank Thomas with 118 runs created.

An OPS+ (which adjusts on base + slugging % for ballpark factors and league averages) of 130 was Anderson’s second best career mark to his 1996 season, which we will get to later in the series.

The 53 stolen bases were also a personal best.

 

Don Buford, 1971

.290/.413/.477 – 99 runs, 19 doubles, 19 home runs, 54 RBI, 15 stolen bases

Buford often slips through the cracks, but had a couple of pretty solid seasons for the Orioles, especially in the on-base percentage category. In 1971, Buford started 113 games in left field for the Birds.

Buford was fourth in American League in on-base percentage, third in OPS+ (153), second in intentional walks (15), and first in runs scored.

His .413 on-base percentage is good for third among qualified Oriole left field seasons and is ninth best, regardless of position, since 1954.

 

B.J. Surhoff , 1999

.308/.347/.492 – 104 runs, 38 doubles, 28 home runs, 107 RBI

In his age-34 season, B.J. Surhoff put together his finest of a 19-year career. In 1996, Surhoff’s first with the Orioles, he started 104 games at third base. The following year he shifted to a primary left field role and started there 145 times in 1999.

Surhoff played in all 162 games and had career-bests in runs, hits (207 – 2nd in American League), doubles, home runs, and RBI.

His 107 RBI are the most by an Oriole left fielder since 1954, as are the 207 hits. That’s also the fourth most hits by an Oriole at any position during the same time span.

Surhoff also earned his only All-Star Game appearance that year. For his efforts, he was named by local media as the Most Valuable Oriole for the 1999 season.

 

Bob Nieman, 1956

.322/.442/.497 – 60 runs, 20 doubles, 6 triples, 12 home runs, 64 RBI

Nieman started the season with the Chicago White Sox, but was traded to the Orioles on May 21.

He would go on to play 114 games in left field and finished second on the team in runs, hits (125), home runs, and RBI. Nieman was the team leader in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

His .442 on-base percentage is the highest by an Oriole since 1954 and fourth highest in franchise history.

Nieman finished seventh in the American League MVP voting.

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