Finally, we get to a Baltimore Oriole. I have a number in my queue to write about (Jim Traber, Nick Markakis, Cal Ripken, etc.), but we’ll turn to Mike Boddicker first, a player who was name-dropped in the first Flip Side column – 47 columns ago.
This is another occupation I guessed completely wrong on (wait for the Ed Wojna post). I assumed a grain elevator operator was someone who manually operated the elevator that moves grain along the process (very technical analysis, I know). Apparently, my knowledge from Witness is not accurate, as a grain elevator operator “buys grain from farmers, either for cash or at a contracted price, and then sells futures contracts for the same quantity of grain, usually each day” (Wikipedia). So, basically, Mike Boddicker was the grain version of Billy Ray Valentine (who traded in orange juice), making him a maize salesman of sorts, not odd for someone who grew up in Iowa.
Of course, he’d leave that all behind in 1978 when the Orioles chose him in the 6th round of the draft. He’d make short work of the minor leagues and appear in the Bigs in 1980 at 22. He’d be up for good in 1983 at age 25. He enjoyed two awesome seasons to start his career, posting a 2.77 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in ’83 and a 2.79 ERA (which lead the league) and 1.14 WHIP in 1984. He averaged just 0.7 HRs per nine IPs, 220 innings and 124 Ks across those seasons.
Given his weak K-total, it isn’t surprising to see him vastly outperform his FIP in ’83 and ’84 (3.57 and 3.23, respectively). In addition, he benefited from pretty decent BAbips (.250 & .243) and strand rates (73.2% and 76.9%). He would never reach those heights of variance again. His best ERA after ’84 would be 3.36 in 1990.
Of course, he still had some juice from those early bouts of greatness in ’83 and ’84 – enough to help the Orioles deal Boddicker to the Boston Red Sox for Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling in 1990. That was not a good year for Red Sox trades, as they also dealt Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson. It is possible that the Sox traded two future Hall of Famers and one PED Hall of Famer for two fringy arms.
Unfortunately, the Orioles wouldn’t wait on Schilling to mature. In what can only be major karmic payback for the Frank Robinson trade, the Orioles would send Schilling, Pete Harnish and Steve Finley to the Houston Astros for Glenn Davis. So, in the matter of two years, the Astros somehow turned an average pitcher and decent first basemen (with a severely failing back) into two Hall of Famers and two long-term major league regulars…the early ’90s were not kind to the Orioles/Red Sox.
While Boddicker should be known as the guy who brought Anderson and Schilling to Baltimore, his career wasn’t devoid of achievement. He is tied with two others for the 38th most put-outs by a pitcher in MLB history with 245. Greg Maddux leads with 510. Not surprisingly, Boddicker also has the 5th best season in terms of most put-outs in MLB history — 49 — in 1984. As with the Orwell novel, it didn’t get much better than 1984 for Mike Boddicker.
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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.