Our beloved Orioles may not be giving us hope for anything more than a merciful end to this season but there have been many highlights in the franchise’s history. And when we are discussing some of the greatest players in Orioles’ lore, we can’t overlook the most important position on the field – the pitcher.
Although the MLB odds at all of the best online sportsbooks are no longer including the O’s as one of this year’s World Series winners, we can always look towards the future and hope someday soon we see the likes of the names listed below. Without further ado, it’s time to give big props to the Baltimore hurlers who have made us stand and applaud throughout the decades. Tell us if you agree.
Top 5 Orioles Pitchers
5. Scott McGregor (1976–1988)
McGregor won’t make everyone’s top five list but he makes ours for several reasons. First and foremost, he pitched his entire career in an Orioles’ uniform and gave the fans many thrilling highlights at the old Memorial Stadium. McGregor was not a regular-season dynamo to be sure but he was money when it counted as evidenced by his 1.63 ERA in the postseason. His contributions to Baltimore’s 1983 World Series squad were numerous, posting an 18-7 record with a 3.18 ERA over a team-leading 36 starts.
In his last few years, McGregor was a shell of his former self and hung on too long but he is rightfully ensconced in the Orioles Hall of Fame and will forever be remembered for his World Series Game 5 complete game shutout performance in which allowed only five hits to the Phillies in the 5-0 Baltimore victory.
4. Hoyt Wilhelm (1952-1972)
Wilhelm spent only five seasons (1958-1962) as a member of the Orioles but they were perhaps the finest of his career. During that time, he was used as a starter and a reliever, compiling a 2.34 ERA and getting selected to four All-Star games over his five-year stint in Baltimore. Although the vast majority of Wilhelm’s 21-year career was spent bouncing from team to team, some of his best years were spent at Memorial Stadium in front of the hometown Orioles fans. Wilhelm is enshrined as a member of the Baltimore Orioles Hall-of-Fame as well as the MLB Hall-of-Fame.
3. Mike Cuellar (1959-1977)
There have only been two teams in Major league Baseball history to have boasted four 20-game winners and Mike Cuellar was part of the most recent edition, the 1971 Baltimore Orioles. Cuellar spent eight years in an Oriole uniform and won 20 or more games in half of them and 18 games in two of them!
From 1969 through 1976 Cuellar was a big reason why the O’s were so dominant and copped a World Series title in 1970. When the curtain closed on Cuellar’s career, he was a four-time All-Star, three of which were with Baltimore, and the 1969 AL Cy Young Award winner. Cuellar passed away in 2010 at the age of 72 but is forever remembered in Baltimore’s Hall-of-Fame.
2. Mike Mussina (1991-2008)
Many will remember Mike Mussina taking his curtain call in a Yankee’s uniform once his career was finished but the Bronx only became his home after he had spent 10 years with the Orioles. And the numbers Mussina posted were stellar for any period in baseball history but considering he did it during the Steroid Era, well, that is a big reason why he is so high on this list.
During his tenure in Baltimore, Mussina averaged nearly 201 innings per season, a mind-blowing stat in today’s game, and averaged almost 15 wins per season. While with the O’s, Mussina won four Gold Glove Awards, finished in the top-six in American League Cy Young Award voting on seven occasions, and made the AL All-Star team five times over his 10 years in Charm City. Like those mentioned above, Mussina was elected into the Orioles Hall-of-Fame and is also in the MLB Hall-of-Fame.
1. Jim Palmer (1965-1984)
There is plenty of room for debate as to who should be included on this list and where, but only the most abject contrarian would raise an eyebrow knowing Jim Palmer is undeniably the greatest Baltimore Orioles pitcher of all time. There is really no argument to be made and we can list Palmer’s credentials thusly:
- 6-time All-Star (1970–1972, 1975, 1977, 1978)
- 3-time World Series champion (1966, 1970, 1983)
- 3-time AL Cy Young Award (1973, 1975, 1976)
- 4-time Gold Glove Award (1976–1979)
- 3-time AL wins leader (1975–1977)
- 2-time AL ERA leader (1973, 1975)
- Baltimore Orioles No. 22 retired
- Baltimore Orioles Hall-of-Fame
- MLB Hall-of-Fame
Palmer is the brightest light in Orioles’ pitching history, averaging a whopping 27 starts per and a stunning 249 innings pitched per season during his 19 years in Baltimore. He was the youngest pitcher ever to toss a shutout in the World Series when he blanked the Dodgers in Game 3 of the 1966 Fall Classic.
“When you see an easy thrower like him, you get lulled into believing that the ball is coming up there easy. It’s not. It’s coming up there hard and doing all kinds of things.” – Dave Chalk