The Orioles enter the 2017 season with many individual milestones on the horizon. Here's a look at 15 that could be achieved this season.
1. Can Zach Britton break the Orioles' all-time saves record this season?
It's amazing. Britton, who didn't record his first major league save until May 15, 2014, needs 41 saves to pass Gregg Olson for most in team history. Olson recorded 160 saves for the Orioles from 1989-93, and in less than three seasons, Britton has racked up 120. The left-hander, who went 47-for-47 in save opportunities in 2016, must first pass Jim Johnson, who had 122 saves, 101 of them in 2012 and 2013.
2. How high can Adam Jones go on the hit list?
Jones begins the 2017 season with 1,448 hits, ninth on the all-team list. It's entirely possible Jones, with a slightly above-average season, can rocket all the way to fourth place on the hit list. In his nine-year Orioles career, Jones has averaged 161 hits per season, and with 167, he'll surpass Brady Anderson (1,614), who's currently fourth. On the way, Jones will pass Brian Roberts (1,452), Ken Singleton (1,455), Nick Markakis (1,547) and Boog Powell (1,574).
3. How high can Jones go on the home run list?
With his first home run of the 2017 season, Jones will equal Rafael Palmeiro for fifth place on the homer list with 223. Brooks Robinson has 268; so Jones, who has never had more than 33 home runs in a season, will have to wait until he passes Brooks. Surpassing Powell (303), Eddie Murray (343) and Cal Ripken Jr. (431) will require a lot of work and a possible Jones contract extension. (Jones' contract runs through 2018).
4. How about Chris Davis?
Davis' first home run of 2017 will be the 200th of his Orioles career. He's committed to the Orioles through 2022, and if he can average 30 home runs a year, he'll be in second place behind Ripken. Davis would have to hit nearly 40 home runs a year to surpass the Iron Man as the leading home run hitter in team history. This year, Davis should pass Anderson (209), who is just behind Jones.
5. Are there any milestones approaching for Buck Showalter?
Last season, Showalter became the second-winningest manager in team history, passing Paul Richards. Now, Showalter, who has managed 1,029 games, is just 27 games behind Richards, who managed 1,056. Without postponements, Showalter is set to manage Orioles game No. 1,057 May 5. Showalter is also 51 victories from equaling Earl Weaver's 1,480 wins as a major league manager.
6. Can Chris Tillman leave his mark on Orioles' stat lists?
Tillman, who is in the last year of his contract, begins 2017 on the disabled list, but with 72 wins, he is seven away from Mike Boddicker and Scott Erickson, who are tied for 10th with 79. If Tillman can return by May, he could move up on the strikeout list, too. He has 771 strikeouts and trails Boddicker and Sidney Ponson (836), who are tied for 10th, and Dennis Martinez (858) for ninth. Scott McGregor (904) and Steve Barber (918) may be out of reach this season.
7. How about Tillman and win-loss percentage?
Tillman's .600 winning percentage is ninth on the team's all-time list. To be eligible for the list, a pitcher must have at least 50 decisions. Tillman has 120 (72-48). This is a list that's easy to fall down on, but only Mike Mussina (.645), Jim Palmer (.638), Mike Cuellar (.619) and Dave McNally (.616) have more decisions ahead of Tillman.
8. Where does Darren O'Day stand on the all-time games list?
When O'Day signed his four-year extension in December 2015, the right-hander said he hoped to appear in the most games in team history. From 2012-15, O'Day appeared in at least 68 games per season, but last year injuries restricted him to 34. Starting 2017 with 307 appearances, O'Day could take a big jump on the team's all-time list. If he's in 68, as he was in 2013-15, he'll move into sixth place with 375, passing bullpen coach Alan Mills (346), McGregor (356), Johnson (360), Eddie Watt (363) and Mark Williamson (365). Three years of 68 games would put O'Day in second place with 511, trailing only Palmer with 558.
9. Are there any records players would like to avoid?
Davis begins 2017 with 1,007 strikeouts as an Oriole. He has two seasons of more than 200 and another with 199. Davis needs just 299 -- less than two seasons worth -- to pass Ripken, who had 1,305 strikeouts in 21 seasons. Ripken never had a season of 100 strikeouts.
10. Doesn't Jones get hit by pitches often?
He does, and Jones' 82 entering the season are the third-most in Orioles history. Anderson (148) and Melvin Mora (107) are ahead of him. Jones has never been hit more than 13 times in a season, so it looks as if he won't move higher on this painful list this season.
11. How about stolen bases? Where does Jones rank there?
Entering 2017, Jones has 81 stolen bases in his Orioles career, and his career high is 16 (2012). He needs four to tie Don Buford for 10th place with 85. Here's one Orioles' mark that won't be challenged for a long time: Anderson has 307 career steals. As a team, the Orioles stole a major-league-low 19 bases in 2016.
12. Jim Palmer's record is safe.
Tillman probably would have gotten his fourth straight Opening Day start had he not had a sore right shoulder. Palmer is the only pitcher in franchise history to make four consecutive Opening Day starts (1974-77). Tillman, Mike Mussina (1994-96 and 1998-2000) and McNally (1969-71) have all had three consecutive Opening Day assignments. Jones started for the 10th straight Opening Day in center field. He's the first player to start that many openers at the same position since Ripken started 14 consecutive at shortstop (1983-96).
13. When will J.J. Hardy surpass 1,500 hits?
Hardy and Jones are two Orioles who should pass the 1,500-hit milestone this year. MLB.com estimates Hardy, who began the season with 1,433, will get his 1,500th hit in Baltimore July 22. Jones' 1,500th hit should come at Yankee Stadium April 29, and Davis' 1,000th hit could occur in Baltimore Aug. 3.
14. Will Mike Mussina make the Hall of Fame this year?
No Oriole has been voted into the Hall of Fame since Ripken was a decade ago, and it's questionable whether Mussina would enter the Hall as an Oriole if he were voted in. But Mussina has made great strides in his first four years of eligibility, moving from 20.3 percent to 51.8 percent. At this rate, the great right-hander will make the Hall, which requires 75 percent of the vote, within the next two years. Mussina has six years of eligibility remaining.
15. What's one Orioles record not likely to be broken?
Ripken's consecutive games streak of 2,632 will never be broken by any player, but his total games played of 3,001 is also highly unlikely to be eclipsed. Jones isn't even in the top 10. He began the season with 1,321, and will likely pass Markakis (1,365), Al Bumbry (1,428) and Singleton (1,446) for eighth place. Only Ripken and Brooks Robinson (2,896) have played more than 2,000 games with the team.
Issue 232: April 2017