Jim Gentile played first base for the Orioles in the early years after the Browns moved from St. Louis to Baltimore. He’s best known for his power surge in 1961, but Gentile helped bring life to the Orioles in the early 1960’s
I’ll be honest, this list is top-heavy. It feels a bit weird to have Jim Gentile on this list due to the fact that he has less than 1,000 games played with the Orioles. But Gentile was very good in the early 1960’s.
Gentile played for the Orioles for just four seasons, from 1960-1963 but for what he lacked in time spent with the franchise, he made up for in productivity.
He was actually signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as a pitcher but was converted to first base, partly due to his big-time swing.
In 1960 Gentile finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting for the Orioles, after hitting 21 homers with a .903 OPS. His breakout 1961 season, with 46 homers, was good for a third-place finish in the AL MVP race.
Gentile hit .272/.379/.512 in his time in Baltimore with 124 home runs and 398 RBI. His 46 homers in 1961 still stands as the 6th most in a single-season in Orioles history. He also led MLB that year with 141 RBI and posted a 1.069 OPS.
Gentile was a big strikeout guy in an era where it was frowned upon; he posted over 100 K’s in each of his four seasons with the Orioles. Nevertheless, Gentile found success with the Orioles.
He was an All-Star for three straight seasons in Baltimore, from 1960-1962, and he helped get the fanbase in Baltimore going, ahead of their dominance in the late 1960’s.