3. Dave McNally — 1,476 SO
Some baseball fans know McNally only for his role in the landmark Seitz decision of 1975, which ushered in the free agency era. Birds fans, however, will remember this proud Montanan as a major force on the mound who helped the franchise achieve tremendous success in the ’60s and ’70s.
McNally’s high school didn’t even have a baseball diamond, but he quickly made a name for himself playing American Legion ball, signing with the O’s for $80,000 in 1960. Three years later, he was with the big league club for good, but with just 4.3 Wins Above Replacement through 1967, it took him a while to get his career going. His four-hitter in the deciding game of the 1966 World Series was sublime, but on the whole, he wasn’t nearly as effective as teammates Jim Palmer and Steve Barber.
Then came 1968, the year of McNally’s big breakout. Thanks to a slider he refined during spring training, the lefty had his way with the entire American League, posting a 1.95 ERA and a league-leading 0.842 WHIP over 273 innings. He was snubbed from the All-Star team, but he did finish fifth in the MVP balloting. He followed that up with three more 20-win seasons, including his terrific 24-win campaign in 1970, the year of the Orioles’ second championship.
McNally whiffed over 165 hitters in three seasons, ranking near the top of the AL in each of those years. Given his 13-year career with the Orioles, it’s not hard to see why he features prominently in their record books.
In late 1974, after back-to-back years of diminishing returns, McNally stunned the O’s front office by asking for a trade. Birds fans were sad to see a Baltimore icon go, but in hindsight, it’s hard to complain about the package they got from the Expos in return: Ken Singleton and Mike Torrez.