Astros History: Joe Boever's 111 Relief Innings

Who here remembers Boever the Saver? Who here knew that's how you're supposed to pronounce Boever?

I fit neither of those categories. This guy was a complete mystery to me, even though I'm pretty sure I had one of his baseball cards as a kid. Boever only played one season in Houston (1992). He signed with the Astros on January 27, 1992 for either $450,000 or $725,000, depending on your source. It appears the contract was for just one year, as he became a free agent again after the '92 season.

I really tried to find a comparable player in recent Astros history, to say something like, "Imagine Brian Moehler," but there just weren't many pitchers who ever did what Boever did in his one season with the Astros. How crazy of a season did he have?

Let's start with him leading the league with 81 appearances. There have been a ton of pitchers who have thrown more than 80 games since 1992, but only two have appeared in at least 80 games while also throwing at least 100 innings. They are Boston's Greg Harris in '93 and the Yankees' Scott Proctor in '06.

That's right, Boever also threw 111 innings. The list of Houston pitchers who have thrown that many innings without starting a single game is very small. Only nine have thrown more than 100 without a single start in team history, and no one has done it since Dave Veres in '95.

But, wait, it gets weirder.

Boever only won three games that season. Do you know how many Houston pitchers have thrown at least 100 innings with three or fewer wins? Also nine, though a different nine guys, including Octavio Dotel, Tom Griffin and Floyd Bannister.

The problem with comparing Boever to those guys, though, is he was actually good in his one season. He posted an ERA of 2.51, which earned him an ERA+ of 135. Only one other pitcher on that last list had an ERA+ over 100 (Barry Latman. So, the reason they didn't win games is they were bad. The reason Boever didn't win is inexplicable. You'd think he'd fall into two or three more wins, just throwing in so many games for a team that went 81-81.

To put what he did in perspective, Boever is one of just five pitchers to win three or fewer games while throwing at least 110 innings with an ERA+ of 130 or better. That includes Hoyt Wilhelm, one of the best relievers in MLB history, Lee Smith, another one of the best relievers ever, Jim Acker, who did it for two different teams, and Darold Knowles, who was traded five times and purchased another time.

Seriously, it's a weird list of guys. But, it gave me a chance to learn about Darold. And, it gave me a chance to see just how weird and great of an Astros career Joe Boever had. Which is exactly what I love about writing this particular feature.

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