Baltimore Orioles: Most Explosive Rookie Debuts In Franchise History

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Baltimore Orioles
COOPERSTOWN, NY – JULY 27: Baseball legend Al Bumbry blows a bubble nwith a young fan during a rained-out coaching clinic held at Doubleday Field on July 27, 2007 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) /

A youth movement will be sweeping through Camden Yards over the next few seasons. Here are the most impressive rookie performances by a Baltimore Orioles player.

As the Baltimore Orioles begin an extensive rebuild which involves putting together a staff and re-vamping their scouting and analytics department, the franchise will also look to invest in building up a farm system which has left a lot to be desired over the past few years. Fans will have the opportunity to see a number of rookies walk onto the big stage in the coming years, including a few notable prospects who show promise in their ability to become regulars at the major league level.

Will any of these rookies put up the types of numbers that some of the most prolific rookies in Orioles’ history have? There’s pretty stiff competition if guys like Ryan Mountcastle, Yusniel Diaz, and any other soon-to-be Orioles’ rookies want to join this elite company.

Let’s go down memory lane to take a brief look at the top five most impressive rookie performances in franchise history. To create this list, we ranked the top performers by bWAR and included players from the days of the St. Louis Browns

5) Outfielder Al Bumbry- 4.0 bWAR (1973)

Winner of the 1973 Rookie of the Year Award, World Series champion in 1983, a member of the Orioles’ Hall of Fame, and a Vietnam War veteran, Al Bumbry made his presence known very quickly in Baltimore. The Fredericksburg, VA native hit .337 in his debut season, adding 15 doubles, seven home runs, and a career-high 11 triples across 110 games. His .398 OBP, .500 slugging percentage, and .898 OPS were all career-highs, as well.

Bumbry shared the outfield with Paul Blair, Don Baylor, Merv Rettenmund, and Rich Coggins as part of a 97-win team under the leadership of Earl Weaver. He wasn’t the only award winner that season, after Jim Palmer took home the ’73 Cy Young Award with a 22-9 and 2.40 ERA season. The Orioles would go on to drop the ALCS in five games to the Oakland Athletics.

A fan favorite in Baltimore and someone who has always been gracious with his time at Camden Yards, Bumbry swiped 254 bags and posted a .343 on-base percentage in 1,496 career-games, spread across 14 seasons in the majors. He played 13 of those seasons in Baltimore, finishing his career with a one-year stint as a member of the San Diego Padres.

4) Outfielder Harry Rice- 4.5 bWAR (1925)

Harry Rice, a former 5’9″ outfielder for the St. Louis Browns, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, and Washington Senators, made his MLB debut in 1923, but did not exceed his rookie status until 1925. The 10-year veteran put up one of his best seasons during his 1925 rookie season, slashing .359/.450/.568/1.018 in 103 games, chipping in 25 doubles, eight triples, and 11 home runs. He posted a remarkable 15/54 K/BB ratio and finished the year fifth in MVP voting.

His 4.5 bWAR rookie year is good enough for fourth place on this list, but very little information is out there on Rice. Outside of his Wikipedia page which claims that Rice’s hometown and high school aren’t real places, it was difficult to find more information. The majority of his career was spent in the outfield, however, he played in at least one game at every single position except for pitcher. His lone appearance behind the plate came in his 1925 rookie season. No rookie in franchise history has posted a higher slash line, among all rookies who had a minimum of 100 plate appearances.