Matthew Taylor: Comparing this year’s Orioles with franchise greats

The 2015 season has been a disappointing one for the Orioles. However, multiple players have posted impressive totals that rank with some of the greatest individual efforts in franchise history. Here’s a look at those efforts and the O’s greats they bring to mind.

Young and mighty: Manny Machado and Boog Powell

Manny Machado has had a stellar season at the plate. On Thursday, he became the Orioles’ first 20-20 player since Brady Anderson in 1999 and the O’s fifth 20-20 player overall. Paul Blair, Don Baylor and Reggie Jackson are the others.

Meanwhile, Machado’s 33 home runs rank as the second most of any Orioles player age 23 or younger. We could talk about Cal Ripken Jr., who owns spots three, four and five on that list, or Eddie Murray, who occupies spots six, seven and eight. Instead, the focus here is on the guy in the top spot: Boog Powell.

Boog Powell had a career-best 39 home runs in 1964 at age 22. Even more remarkable is the fact that Powell played in only 134 games that season. Powell finished the 1964 season with a .290/.399/.606 slash line. That .606 slugging percentage was the best in the American League. Powell had four 30-plus home run seasons in his career, all of which came during his time as an Oriole.

Record-setting power: Chris Davis and Jim Gentile

With his two home runs on Sept. 4, Chris Davis became the first Oriole with multiple 40 home run seasons. Davis currently owns the top spot (53) and the fifth spot (45) on the O’s single-season home run list. He trails Jim Gentile by one home run for the fourth spot with three games to go.

Jim Gentile is too easily overlooked when it comes to big power seasons in Baltimore. However, you could argue that Gentile’s 46-home run season in 1961, when he finished third in the MVP voting to Maris and Mantle, was a better power season than Davis’ 53-home run effort in 2013. Both players were in their age 27 seasons when they established career highs in homers, and their efforts from ages 26 through age 28 are remarkably similar. It is at age 29 - i.e. Davis’ current age - when their efforts depart in Davis’ favor.

Steady as they go: Adam Jones and Eddie Murray

Adam Jones now has five seasons with 25 or more home runs. That moves him into a third-place tie behind Eddie Murray (10 seasons) and Cal Ripken (eight seasons) for 25-home run seasons. He is tied with Frank Robinson and Powell, who both had five 25-home run seasons for the O’s.

Jones is halfway to reaching Steady Eddie’s mark. Murray’s first season exceeding 25 home runs came in 1977, when he had 27 homers at age 21. The last one came in 1988 when he was 32. Five of those 10 seasons were 30-plus homer seasons, also an Orioles best. Jones currently has two seasons of 30 or more homers.

WHIP it good: Darren O’Day and Moe Drabowsky

Darren O’Day is working on his fourth consecutive season with a WHIP of 1.000 or lower. No Orioles pitcher has done that. Moe Drabowsky had three straight seasons with a WHIP of 1.000 or lower. Drabowsky did it in 1966 (0.948), 1967 (0.955) and 1968 (0.978). O’Day had a 0.968 WHIP headed into Thursday’s game, in which he struck out two batters and allowed no baserunners in 1 1/3 innings of work. O’Day finished with a WHIP of 0.940 in 2012, 1.000 in 2013 and 0.888 in 2014.

Shutting it down: Zach Britton and Gregg Olson

Zach Britton is the fourth Orioles closer with consecutive 30-save seasons joining Jim Johnson (2012, 2013), Randy Myers (1996, 1997) and Gregg Olson (1990, 1991, 1992). It is the fourth consecutive season that an O’s closer as had at least 30 saves, which has never happened before. Britton has put himself in good company; with another 30-save season, he could sit atop the consistency list with Olson.

Olson fell one save shy of making it four consecutive seasons with 30 or more saves. He tallied 29 saves in 1993 and had six blown saves. Olson is the Orioles’ all-time saves leader (160).

Power and pitching

Finally, let’s combine power and pitching. Thanks to Davis and Britton, the Orioles extended a franchise-best streak of 40-plus homers and 30-plus saves to three seasons. Davis had 53 home runs alongside Jim Johnson’s 50 saves in 2013. Nelson Cruz (40 homers) and Britton (37 saves) continued the streak last season. Davis (45 homers) and Britton (34 saves) kept things going in 2015.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. Follow him on Twitter: @RoarFrom34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of’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 but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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