On April 5, with Chris Davis having hit four home runs in four games, MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons commented on Twitter about the Orioles’ 2011 acquisition of the lefty slugger and remarked, “Now Davis is Boog.”
Boog, of course, is Boog Powell. And Gammons, of course, was engaging in a bit of hyperbole.
Chris Davis is no Boog Powell. Nevertheless, a player like Davis, built the way he is and performing the way he has to start the season, invites historical comparisons, and Powell is an obvious choice. Like Davis, he played first base, batted lefty but threw righty, and matched - exceeded even - the current slugger in height and weight.
Boog hit them big, and Boog hit them in bunches. So when Davis does so at the outset of the season, leaving observers without adequate descriptors for what they’re experiencing, he ends up in the same sentence as Powell. It’s fun - a compliment to Davis and a nod to Powell’s greatness. It’s not making an argument so much as it is simply enjoying a moment.
For me, the guy who comes to mind when I see Davis spraying the cheap seats with early season souvenirs is Sam Horn. That’s a high compliment coming from me, as Horn was one of my favorite players as a kid. I was entranced by his raw power.
Sam Horn was no Chris Davis. Nevertheless, I haven’t seen a burly lefty crush a ball for the Orioles like Davis has since Horn did years ago. Horn had a pretty good start to his own season back in 1990: 4-for-5 on opening day with a pair of three-run homers followed by a 2-for-4 showing at the plate the following game. The similarities don’t extend much beyond that, but they don’t need to.
I never had the privilege of watching Powell play in Baltimore. I was captivated Horn. So that’s my guy. But I wondered which other O’s players might also fit the bill. Using an admittedly narrow set of criteria - lefty batters who topped 220 lbs. and hit 20 or more home runs in a season for the Orioles at least once - I developed a short list that includes Powell, Horn, Larry Sheets and Luke Scott. Many left-handed sluggers - Ken Singleton, Jim Gentile, Rafael Palmeiro, Brady Anderson, etc. - simply didn’t weigh enough to make my arbitrary list.
These light-hearted comparisons, made absent the burden of sample size, tend to be historically bound. An outstanding individual performance or brief hot streak calls to mind a player you knew and loved. Rather than “I’ve never seen this before,” you instead think “You know who this guy reminds me of?”
So who comes to mind for you?
Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.