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. So far, we’ve looked at left field, center field, right field, third base, shortstop, second base, and first base.
This week, we go behind home plate.
Chris Hoiles, 1993
.310/.416/.585 – 80 runs, 28 doubles, 29 home runs, 82 RBI
(Yes, that was in 1996, but it’s too great to not share!)
Chris Hoiles spent his entire 10-year major league career with the Baltimore Orioles after being part of the trade that sent Fred Lynn to the Detroit Tigers. In 1993, Hoiles put together the best season of his career and one of the best for an O’s backstop.
Hoiles led the team in home runs and OPS+ (162), and was second in RBI, walks (82), batting average, and total bases (245). His on-base and slugging percentages were also tops on the team and both rank as the highest for a single-season since 1954 among Oriole catchers. Hoiles’ .310 average is second to the .316 Javy Lopez posted in 2004 (see below).
Hoiles caught 41% of attempted base stealers in 1993, the highest mark of his career. The American League average that year was 36%.
Matt Wieters, 2011
.262/.328/.450 – 72 runs, 28 doubles, 22 home runs, 68 RBI, Gold Glove Award
Expectations for Matt Wieters have been sky-high since he made his major league debut in 2009. In 2011, it looked as though he was on his way to living up to those expectations.
Wieters was named to his first All-Star team and became the first Orioles catcher to win a Gold Glove Award.
He led American League catchers in defensive runs saved (17), double plays turned (14), and had the highest caught stealing percentage (37%) among catchers with 1,000+ defensive innings (seven total).
Wieters’ slugging percentage and OPS+ (110) represent career-highs, while his 84 strikeouts are a career-low.
Javy Lopez, 2004
.316/.370/.503 – 83 runs, 33 doubles, 23 home runs, 86 RBI
After a fifth place finish in the 2003 National League MVP voting with the Atlanta Braves, Javy Lopez signed with the Orioles as a free agent in January 2004.
Later that year, Lopez posted the highest single-season batting average for an Orioles catcher since 1954. His slugging percentage is second and his on-base percentage is good for fourth in O’s history for backstops.
Lopez led all catchers that year in home runs and was second in RBI.
Ramon Hernandez, 2006
.275/.343/.479 – 66 runs, 29 doubles, 23 home runs, 91 RBI
Hernandez spent just three seasons in Baltimore but, as has been the case for many players throughout this series, his first was a pretty good one.
He led American League catchers by throwing out 42 attempted base stealers. His 69 total assists were also first.
With the bat, Hernandez led all major league catchers in home runs. His 91 RBI stand as the most by an Orioles catcher since 1954.