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Series Wrapup

Story

The 1970 baseball season began with two of the game’s biggest stars out of uniform.  Newly-elected baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn suspended Denny McLain indefinitely for the star pitcher’s alleged involvement in a bookmaking operation.  Meanwhile, Gold Glove centerfielder Curt Flood elected not to report to the Phillies after the St. Louis Cardinals included him in a seven-player deal they completed with Philadelphia at the end of the previous season.  Instead, Flood chose to pursue an antitrust lawsuit challenging baseball’s reserve clause, which gave team owners the right to trade players against their wishes.  Additional news off the field included the relocation of the Seattle franchise to Milwaukee and the censorship of Astros pitcher Jim Bouton by Bowie Kuhn for the release of his controversial memoir, Ball Four.
   
Once the regular season got underway, it soon became apparent that the Baltimore Orioles and Minnesota Twins were likely to experience little difficulty repeating as division champions in the American League.  The Orioles ended up compiling a record of 108-54 during the campaign, en route to finishing 15 games ahead of the second-place Yankees in the A.L. East.  The Twins similarly dominated the Western Division, posting a mark of 98-64 that left them a full nine games in front of the runner-up Oakland Athletics.

A well-balanced ball club, the Twins finished third in the junior circuit in runs scored, and they also placed second in team ERA.  Veteran right-hander Jim Perry anchored Minnesota’s starting rotation, earning A.L. Cy Young honors by tying for the league lead with 24 victories, compiling a 3.04 ERA, and throwing 279 innings.  On offense, Cesar Tovar provided a spark at the top of the batting order, hitting .300, placing among the league leaders with 120 runs scored, 195 hits, and 30 stolen bases, and topping the circuit with 36 doubles and 13 triples.  Tony Oliva had a big year, hitting 23 home runs, driving in 107 runs, batting .325, and leading the league with 204 hits and 36 doubles.  Harmon Killebrew earned a third-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting by batting .271, scoring 96 runs, and finishing among the league leaders with 41 home runs, 113 runs batted in, 128 walks, and a .411 on-base percentage.

The Orioles clearly established themselves as the American League’s best team for the second straight year, leading the league with 792 runs scored and a team ERA of 3.15.  On offense, Frank Robinson hit 25 home runs, knocked in 78 runs, and batted .306.  Brooks Robinson hit 18 homers, drove in 94 runs, and batted .276.  Paul Blair hit 18 homers and scored 79 runs, while Don Buford hit 17 homers and led the team with 99 runs scored.  After finishing second in the voting to Harmon Killebrew one year earlier, Boog Powell earned A.L. MVP honors by batting .297 and placing among the league leaders with 35 home runs and 114 runs batted in. 

Still, the Orioles’ greatest strength may well have been their pitching.  Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar tied for the league lead with 24 victories, compiling records of 24-9 and 24-8, respectively.  McNally also pitched 296 innings, while Cuellar threw 297 frames and led the league with 21 complete games.  Jim Palmer finished 20-10 with a 2.71 ERA, and he led all A.L. hurlers with 305 innings pitched and five shutouts.

After sweeping the Twins in the ALCS for the second straight year, the Orioles entered the World Series against the powerful Cincinnati Reds seeking to redeem themselves for their poor performance against the New York Mets in the previous year’s Fall Classic.  Cincinnati’s batting order included table-setters Bobby Tolan and Pete Rose, as well as sluggers Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, and Lee May.  However, aided by Brooks Robinson’s outstanding glove work at third base, Baltimore’s superior pitching prevailed, holding Cincinnati’s vaunted lineup to a team batting average of just .213.  The Orioles took the Series in five games, with Robinson earning Series MVP honors by batting .429, with two homers and six runs batted in.

Although the Orioles and Twins finished well ahead of their closest competitors in their respective divisions, many of the league’s best players performed for other teams.  The Boston Red Sox finished third in the A.L. East, 21 games behind Baltimore.  Nevertheless, they featured one of the most potent offenses in the junior circuit, scoring only six fewer runs than the Orioles and leading the league with 203 home runs and a .262 team batting average.  Centerfielder Reggie Smith hit 22 homers, scored 109 runs, and batted .303.  Shortstop Rico Petrocelli hit 29 home runs and drove in 103 runs.  Right-fielder Tony Conigliaro, still on the mend from his serious 1967 beaning, hit 36 home runs and finished second in the league with 116 runs batted in.  Carl Yastrzemski established himself as arguably the league’s finest all-around player over the course of the season, hitting 40 home runs, knocking in 102 runs, finishing a close second in the batting race with a mark of .329, and topping the circuit with 125 runs scored, 335 total bases, a .453 on-base percentage, and a .592 slugging percentage. 

Tommy Harper also had an exceptional all-around year for the Milwaukee Brewers, who finished fourth in the A.L. West, 33 games behind the first-place Twins.  Batting leadoff for the Brewers while splitting his time between the outfield, third base, and second base, Harper hit 31 home runs, knocked in 82 runs, scored 104 others, batted .296, and finished second in the league with 38 stolen bases. 

Frank Howard had a huge year for the Washington Senators, who finished last in the East, 38 games behind the Orioles.  The mammoth slugger batted .283, scored 90 runs, and led the league with 44 home runs, 126 runs batted in, and 132 bases on balls.

Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:

• February 19 - Commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced the suspension of Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain, effective April 1, for McLain's alleged involvement in a bookmaking operation.  Although indefinite at the time of the announcement, the suspension later was set at three months.

• April 1 - The Milwaukee Brewers organization, headed by Bud Selig, purchased the Seattle Pilots franchise for $10,800,000

• April 7 - Major league baseball returned to Wisconsin after a four-year absence as the Brewers played their first game in Milwaukee, losing to the California Angels 12–0 before a crowd of 37,237.

• May 10 - Hoyt Wilhelm made his 1,000th pitching appearance; the first pitcher in history to do so.

• Alex Johnson of the Angels barely edged out Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski for the batting title with a mark of .329.

• New York’s Thurman Munson (six home runs, 53 RBIs, .302 batting average) captured A.L. Rookie of the Year honors.

• The Conigliaro brothers, Tony and Billy, hit a sibling record 54 homers for Boston.

• Vida Blue of Oakland threw a no-hitter against Minnesota on September 21.

• Clyde Wright of California tossed a no-hitter against Oakland on July 3.

• The Hall of Fame inducted Lou Boudreau, Earle Combs, Ford Frick, and Jesse Haines.

• Cleveland Indians rookie catcher Ray Fosse sustained a career-threatening injury in a home-plate collision with Pete Rose at the All-Star Game when Rose bowled him over while scoring the winning run.

• Chicago’s Luis Aparicio won the last of his nine Gold Gloves at shortstop.

• Baltimore’s Paul Blair won the third of his eight consecutive Gold Gloves as an American League outfielder.

• Cleveland’s Sam McDowell won 20 games, compiled a 2.92 ERA, threw 19 complete games, and led all A.L. hurlers with 305 innings pitched and 304 strikeouts.

• Hall of Famer Ray Schalk died.

• Jim Bouton's book Ball Four became a huge success after it hit bookstores.

Batting

TM G AB R H RBI AVG 2B 3B HR SB CS TB OBP SLG OPSLG GIDP SF SH
BAL 1990 5545 792 1424 748 .181 213 25 179 84 39 2224 .351 .269 .639 110 46 64
BOS 1976 5535 786 1450 743 .196 252 28 203 50 48 2367 .329 .288 .653 137 47 34
CAL 2171 5532 631 1391 598 .187 197 40 114 69 27 2010 .294 .256 .582 118 37 69
CHA 2141 5514 633 1394 587 .193 192 20 123 53 33 1995 .296 .268 .598 132 48 51
CLE 2154 5463 649 1358 617 .180 197 23 183 25 36 2150 .301 .266 .600 119 45 76
DET 2128 5377 666 1282 619 .161 207 38 148 29 30 2009 .297 .250 .601 134 49 83
KCA 2026 5503 611 1341 572 .183 202 41 97 97 53 1916 .305 .238 .581 123 27 63
MIN 2200 5483 744 1438 694 .206 230 41 153 57 52 2209 .318 .316 .675 132 38 79
ML4 2236 5395 613 1305 571 .199 202 24 126 91 73 1933 .308 .282 .613 132 32 115
NYA 2037 5492 680 1381 627 .205 208 41 111 105 61 2004 .300 .291 .611 115 46 60
OAK 2189 5376 678 1338 630 .189 208 24 171 131 68 2107 .334 .295 .656 121 36 73
WS2 2233 5460 626 1302 583 .167 184 28 138 72 42 1956 .318 .233 .580 133 38 44

Pitching

Team G W L IP SO BB BF H HR ERA ER R GC SH SV WP BK
BAL 390 108 54 1478 941 469 6099 1317 139 41.260 517 574 60 12 31 44 5
BOS 446 87 75 1445 1003 594 6258 1391 156 92.230 626 722 38 7 44 70 5
CAL 476 86 76 1464 922 559 6100 1280 154 55.330 566 630 21 8 49 52 10
CHA 442 56 106 1431 762 556 6272 1554 164 106.540 725 822 20 5 30 63 4
CLE 474 76 86 1452 1076 689 6228 1333 163 67.520 630 675 34 5 35 53 4
DET 450 79 83 1447 1045 623 6319 1443 153 68.040 658 731 33 7 39 56 5
KCA 430 65 97 1465 915 641 6253 1346 138 76.880 615 705 30 7 25 56 5
MIN 431 98 64 1448 940 486 6071 1329 130 46.730 520 605 26 8 58 38 4
ML4 446 65 97 1446 895 587 6236 1397 146 117.040 676 751 31 2 27 46 3
NYA 402 93 69 1472 777 451 6143 1386 130 64.480 531 612 36 5 49 32 2
OAK 471 89 73 1441 858 542 6029 1253 134 71.550 529 593 33 11 40 56 3
WS2 478 70 92 1458 823 611 6207 1375 139 63.360 615 689 20 7 40 51 5

Fielding

Team ID G TC PO A E Fld% InOuts SB CS CS% PB
BAL 2390 7389 5527 1730 132 .960 17745 55 43 2.00 12
BOS 2359 7138 5319 1632 187 .922 17328 72 35 0 13
CAL 2544 7360 5388 1818 154 .972 17553 78 42 0 27
CHA 2489 7479 5189 2105 185 .945 17162 106 43 1.00 27
CLE 2567 7185 5264 1768 153 .965 17415 57 58 2.00 23
DET 2469 7165 5357 1664 144 .957 17367 68 51 1.00 15
KCA 2356 7347 5429 1744 174 .967 17569 99 61 1.00 16
MIN 2659 7257 5443 1666 148 .972 17379 55 47 1.00 11
ML4 2686 7203 5286 1754 163 .978 17358 104 50 0 9
NYA 2431 7524 5425 1957 142 .971 17661 41 41 2.00 12
OAK 2569 7217 5349 1699 169 .977 17313 72 41 0 12
WS2 2656 7441 5336 1971 134 .968 17493 55 49 3.00 12

West

team W L Att Rk SOP
Minnesota Twins 98 64 1261887 1 940
Oakland Athletics 89 73 778355 2 858
California Angels 86 76 1077741 3 922
Kansas City Royals 65 97 693047 4 915
Milwaukee Brewers 65 97 933690 4 895
Chicago White Sox 56 106 495355 6 762

Central

East

team W L Att Rk SOP
Baltimore Orioles 108 54 1057069 1 941
New York Yankees 93 69 1136879 2 777
Boston Red Sox 87 75 1595278 3 1003
Detroit Tigers 79 83 1501293 4 1045
Cleveland Indians 76 86 729752 5 1076
Washington Senators 70 92 824789 6 823

Awards

Silver Slugger

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Tagged:
1970 ALCS, 1970 World Series, Alex Johnson, American League, Baltimore Orioles, Bert Campaneris, Billy Conigliaro, Boog Powell, Bowie Kuhn, Brooks Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski, Cesar Tovar, Clyde Wright, Curt Flood, Dave McNally, Denny McLain, Don Buford, Frank Howard, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Hoyt Wilhelm, Jim Bouton, Jim Palmer, Jim Perry, Joe Coleman, Luis Aparicio, Mike Cuellar, Minnesota Twins, Paul Blair, Ray Fosse, Reggie Smith, Rico Petrocelli, Sam McDowell, Thurman Munson, Tommy Harper, Tony Conigliaro, Tony Oliva, Vida Blue

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