1. Jim Palmer — 2,212 SO
Did you really think it would be anyone else? Palmer is the Orioles’ all-time leader in a number of major categories, including wins, innings pitched and, yes, strikeouts.
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Palmer signed with the Orioles right out of high school in 1963 and made his big league debut two years later, pitching 92 innings in swingman duty. The next season, he won 15 games, then won Game 2 of the 1966 World Series, helping the Birds to a dominant sweep.
An imposing figure with natural velocity and a smooth delivery, Palmer seemed primed for a rapid rise, but arm troubles kept him sidelined for most of the next two seasons. He finally came into his own in 1969, going 16-4 with a 2.34 ERA; the following year, he kicked off a stretch that included eight 20-win seasons in nine years, taking Cy Young honors in 1973, 1975 and 1976.
Palmer never posted the rate stats we’re used to seeing today, but he did lead the Orioles in strikeouts on six occasions, often beating out teammates like McNally and Cueller. He also pitched in Baltimore until 1984, allowing him to pile up prodigious counting stat totals.
But while Palmer is the Birds’ strikeout king by a country mile, he’s only 60th on the all-time list. With today’s skyrocketing strikeout rates, the idea of someone taking his throne isn’t inconceivable — but for now, the Baltimore legend stands alone.
Which of the Birds’ top five strikeout pitchers is your favorite? Let us know on social media, and keep it here at Birds Watcher for more updates on the Baltimore Orioles.