The 2014 season will be a special one for the Baltimore Orioles, and not just because there are postseason dreams around Birdland. The O’s will celebrate 60 years in Baltimore, which presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on great players and memories since 1954.
In the spirit of the occasion I’ve decided to highlight some of the great individual seasons we’ve witnessed from 1954-2013. Last week we looked at left field. This week, we move over to center.
Paul Blair, 1969
.285/.327/.477 – 102 runs, 32 doubles, 26 home runs, 76 RBI, 20 stolen bases, Gold Glove Award
In 1969, Blair captured the first of seven consecutive Gold Glove Awards in addition to posting career highs with the bat.
In the field, Blair led all American League fielders in total zone runs, which measures the number of runs a player is worth based on amount of plays made, with 26. Cesar Tovar was second among center fielders with 8. If you include all outfielders, the next highest number is 13.
At the plate, Blair posted personal bests in runs scored (6th in AL), hits (178 – 3rd in AL), doubles (4th in AL), home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, OPS (.804), and total bases (298 – 7th in AL).
Brady Anderson, 1996
.297/.396/.637 – 117 runs, 37 doubles, 50 home runs, 110 RBI, 21 stolen bases
For the second time in our series, Brady Anderson earns a spot. This time, it’s for a position and season he’s become more associated with among Orioles fans.
All Brady, and his sideburns, did in 1996 was put together the greatest offensive season for a center fielder who called Memorial Stadium or Oriole Park at Camden Yards home.
He led the American League in extra base hits (92) and finished second in home runs. Anderson was third in slugging percentage, and fourth in both total bases (369) and runs created (150).
Anderson’s .637 slugging percentage is tied for second in franchise history with Frank Robinson’s 1966 season. His 1.034 OPS is the third highest by an Oriole.
The 50 home runs stood as the franchise record until Chris Davis topped it last year. His final long ball came on the last day of the season off of Pat Hentgen, who would go on to win the Cy Young Award that year.
Al Bumbry, 1980
.318/.392/.433 – 118 runs, 29 doubles, 9 triples, 9 home runs, 53 RBI, 44 stolen bases
Al Bumbry made the All-Star team once during his 14-season career. As you can probably guess, 1980 was that year.
In his age 33 season, Bumbry played in 160 games and established his career highs in runs scored (3rd in AL), hits (205 – 5th in AL), home runs, RBI, stolen bases (5th in AL), walks (78), and total bases (279).
His .318 average is the highest for an Orioles center fielder since 1954, as are the 205 hits.
Adam Jones, 2012
.287/.334/.505 – 103 runs, 39 doubles, 32 home runs, 82 RBI, 16 stolen bases, Gold Glove Award
In 2012, Adam Jones finished 6th in AL MVP voting , was named Most Valuable Oriole for the second consecutive season, and claimed his second Gold Glove.
Jones’ batting average, runs scored, hits (186), doubles (39), stolen bases, slugging percentage, total bases (327), and OPS+ (125) stand as career highs. He was fourth in the American League in total bases and fifth in extra base hits (74).
His .505 slugging percentage and 39 doubles are good for second among Oriole center fielders since 1954.
Mike Devereaux, 1992
.276/.321/.464 – 76 runs, 29 doubles, 11 triples, 24 home runs, 107 RBI, 10 stolen bases
As the numbers above indicate, there wasn’t much Mike Devereaux didn’t do for a 1992 Orioles team that went 89-73 and finished third in the American League East.
Devereaux finished seventh in AL MVP voting and was second in the league in triples, fifth in total bases (303), sixth in extra base hits (64), and eighth in hits (180).
His 107 RBI are third most among Oriole center fielders since 1954 and the 180 hits place him fourth.