I am a former sports editor and currently serve as a historian with the Society of American Baseball Research and manage a valet operation.
Who Are the Best Home Run Hitters in Baltimore Orioles History?
Most of the power that has come through the Baltimore Orioles organization didn't arrive until the 1960s or later, but once the franchise became known as a haven for sluggers, the homers didn't seem to stop. From Hall of Famers like Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Eddie Murray, and Cal Ripken Jr. to local legends like Boog Powell, Jim Gentile, and Chris Davis, the Orioles have a strong history of home run hitters.
This article will explore the five greatest home run hitters in Baltimore Orioles history. These rankings are not based upon opinions, and for a player to be considered, he must have hit at least 100 home runs during his time with the Orioles. Players were then ranked by averaging their rank for both of these criterion:
- Total home runs with the Orioles
- Plate appearances per home run with the Orioles
Following the top five are the best of the rest, a handful of shorter lists of franchise leaders in more defined categories, and franchise home run records. Information from Stathead on Baseball Reference was used to compile statistics.
Note: Ranks in parenthesis in individual player capsules represent their ranking among players who hit at least 100 home runs with the Orioles. ... Statistics are current through the end of the 2021 season.
5. Frank Robinson
- Years Played: 1966–71
- Home Runs: 179 (11th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 19.51 (4th)
- Single-Season High: 49 in 1966
When Frank Robinson came to the Orioles in 1966, he immediately made an impact by winning the Triple Crown and helping Baltimore to the World Series championship. He slugged a career-high 49 home runs that season on the way to becoming the first player ever to win MVP honors in both the American and National leagues (he previously won MVP honors with the Cincinnati Reds in 1961), and he firmly established himself as one of the premier sluggers of the 1960s. Those 49 homers doubled as the single-season franchise record, which stood for 30 years. Robinson only spent six seasons with the Orioles, but he made the most of them by hitting 25 or more homers and making the All-Star team in all but one year.
4. Eddie Murray
- Years Played: 1977–88, '96
- Home Runs: 343 (2nd)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 24.48 (9th)
- Single-Season High: 33 in 1983
Eddie Murray is one of the greatest switch hitters in baseball history, and the bulk of his damage came during 13 seasons with the Orioles. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1977, opening his career with 27 home runs. Murray had at least 20 home runs in each of his first nine seasons and was an All-Star in six of them as one of the top sluggers of the 1980s. He also was a top-five finisher in MVP balloting each year from 1981 to '85. After stints in three other cities from 1989 to '96, he returned to Baltimore in the middle of the 1996 season and clobbered his 500th career home run on Sept. 6, to become just the third player in Major-League history with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. With the Orioles, Murray hit three home runs in a game three times, becoming the second player in franchise history to do so.
T-2. Rafael Palmeiro
- Years Played: 1994–98, 2004–05
- Home Runs: 223 (7th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 19.41 (3rd)
- Single-Season High: 43 in 1998
Rafael Palmeiro came to the Orioles for the strike-shortened 1994 season and hit 23 home runs in 111 games. For the next four years, he was an undeniable force in the middle of the lineup. Palmeiro slugged at least 38 home runs in each of those years (a streak he extended to nine seasons overall after returning to the Texas Rangers). He only made one All-Star appearnace in Baltimore (1998), and he returned to the Orioles in 2004 and '05. Palmeiro's career abruptly ended after he tested positive for steroids in 2005 (he had previously staunchly denied using performance enhancing drugs under oath to a congressional committee).
T-2. Boog Powell
- Years Played: 1961–74
- Home Runs: 303 (3rd)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 22.81 (7th)
- Single-Season High: 39 in 1964
The first great slugger developed by the Orioles was Boog Powell, who left the team in 1974 as its career leader in home runs. Powell debuted as a 19-year-old late in the 1961 season and he hit 30 or more home runs four times with Baltimore. He was the first player in Orioles history to homer three times in a game, doing so in both 1963 and '64 against the Washington Senators and again in '66 against the Boston Red Sox (three St. Louis Browns accomplished the feat before the franchise moved to Baltimore). Powell was an All-Star every season from 1968 to '71, and he finished as MVP runner-up in '69 before winning the award the next season.
1. Chris Davis
- Years Played: 2011–20
- Home Runs: 253 (6th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 18.49 (2nd)
- Single-Season High: 53 in 2013
In his second full year with the Orioles in 2013, Chris Davis broke the franchise's single-season record with a Major League-leading 53 homers and made the only All-Star appearance of his career. From there, he remained a power threat, but became a poor hitter. From 2014 to '20, Davis had just 601 hits in 821 games, and 27.5% of those were home runs. He struck out 1,143 times over the same period (34.5% of his plate appearances). Despite that all-or-nothing approach, Davis was a key slugger who hit more than 25 home runs for six straight seasons in Baltimore, including a MLB-leading 47 in 2015. He was rewarded with the richest contract in franchise history following that season, but Davis was unable to play out the entire seven years of the deal after retiring in 2021 due to multiple injuries.
The Best of the Rest
The following three players are home run hitters from Baltimore Orioles history who just missed the top five.
- Years Played: 1960–63
- Home Runs: 124 (19th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 18.44 (1st)
- Single-Season High: 46 in 1961
Jim Gentile didn't spend a lot of time in Baltimore, but he made the most of it. He broke the franchise's single-season home run record in 1961, and made a total of six All-Star appearances during his four seasons with the Orioles.
- Years Played: 1989–98
- Home Runs: 151 (15th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 22.11 (5th)
- Single-Season High: 29 in 1993
Chris Hoiles spent all 10 of his Major-League seasons with Baltimore and was a steady catcher with power. Though he never played more than 127 games in a season, he hit at least 15 homers six times.
- Years Played: 2012–18
- Home Runs: 162 (13th)
- Plate Appearances/Home Run: 23.32 (8th)
- Single-Season High: 37 in 2016
Manny Machado was one of the most highly touted prospects to come through Baltimore's system, and he debuted at 19 years old. He didn't disappoint with four All-Star appearances in seven years and three straight 30+ home run seasons from 2015 to '17.
Baltimore Orioles Home Run Records
Below are some of the franchise home run records for the Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore Orioles Career Home Run Leaders
- 1. Cal Ripken Jr., 431
- 2. Eddie Murray, 343
- 3. Boog Powell, 303
- 4. Brooks Robinson, 268
- 5. Adam Jones, 263
Baltimore Orioles Plate Appearance/Home Run Leaders (min. 100 HRs)
- Jim Gentile, 16.44
- Chris Davis, 18.49
- Rafael Palmeiro, 19.41
- Frank Robinson, 19.51
- Chris Hoiles, 22.11
Baltimore Orioles Single-Season Home Run Leaders
- 1. Chris Davis, 53 (2013)
- 2. Brady Anderson, 50 (1996)
- 3. Frank Robinson, 49 (1966)
- T-4. Mark Trumbo, 47 (2016)
- T-4. Davis, 47 (2015)
Baltimore Orioles Single-Game Home Run Leaders
- 21 players tied with 3 (Eddie Murray and Boog Powell each did it 3 times)
© 2021 Andrew Harner