Flashback Friday: The Consistency of Harold Baines
April 4, 2014
This week's Flashback Friday can take you back to the mid-'90s or really any time since then.
The topic? Opening Day designated hitters for the Orioles.
Following Monday's home opener, the Baltimore Sun shared some Opening Day facts and figures, including the number 12 and this detail about it: "Consecutive years that the Orioles have had a different Opening Day designated hitter."
A dozen years of different designated hitters. That's ... impressive?
Harold Baines was the most recent Orioles DH to start consecutive openers, which he did from 1993 through 1995.
How many Orioles designated hitters since 2003 can you name?
Here's the list:
2014: Delmon Young
2013: Steve Pearce
2012: Wilson Betemit
2011: Vlad Guerrero
2010: Luke Scott
2009: Ty Wiggington
2008: Aubrey Huff
2007: Kevin Millar
2006: Javy Lopez
2005: Jay Gibbons
2004: David Segui
2003: Marty Cordova
David Segui is the guy responsible for the streak not extending longer. He started the 2002 opener and then repeated as DH at the start of the 2004 season.
Here's what things looked like from 1996 through 2002:
2002: David Segui
2001: Chris Richard
2000: Harold Baines
1999: Jeff Conine
1998: Joe Carter
1997: Brady Anderson
1996: Bobby Bonilla
And then there is Baines, a consistent hitter with a consistent Opening Day role from 1993 through 1995.
Baines totaled a .289 career average, .356 on-base percentage, and .465 sluggling percentage (.289/.356/.465 slash line) over the course of 22 years in the majors. He had 2,866 hits, 384 home runs, and 1,628 RBI.
During seven years in Baltimore, the Orioles Hall of Famer posted a .301/.379/.502 slash line, the best line of his five major league stops, and added 107 home runs and 378 RBI. He was the epitome of the "do one thing well" mantra; the man could hit, even as he turned 40.
Baines got his 2,000 hit off of another one-time Oriole, Scott Erickson, on July 24, 1993. Ironically, he legged out an infield single. "It wasn't one of my easier ones, but it was a hit," he said.
He has the second-most hits as a DH behind David Ortiz, who surpassed Baines in 2013 (as if I needed another reason to dislike Papi). His record for most home runs by a DH (225) was surpassed by Edgar Martinez in 2004 and later Frank Thomas.
Prior to Baines, the first designated hitter at Camden Yards happened to be one of my favorite all-time Orioles: Sam Horn. He went 2-for-2 with a walk and a run scored as the O's christened their new ballpark on April 6, 1992.