#37: Jeremy Guthrie, RHP (2007-2011)
The story goes that Jeremy Guthrie came to the Orioles because then-manager Dave Trembley remembered him from his time managing in the minor leagues. When he became available as Cleveland tried to sneak him through waivers in January 2007, Trembley suggested the Orioles claim him. So began a five-year Orioles tenure that blossomed into an improbably solid and often under-appreciated career, one that makes him worthy of appearing towards the bottom of our Top 40 list.
He was never a Cy Young contender, nor did he deserve to be with the results he got. Still, he always deserved better than what he ended up getting. Guthrie's final record as an Oriole was 47-65, representing one of the largest ways of showing that a W-L record is not any way to evaluate a pitcher's quality over any period of time.
Over five seasons, he threw nearly a thousand innings for the Orioles. Guthrie spent several years as the only decent pitcher on some bad, bad pitching staffs. Consider the 2008 season, where he recorded his best ERA: a 3.63 over 190.2 innings pitched. Not only was Guthrie the only starter with an ERA under 4, he was the only starter with an ERA under 5. Other starters that year were Daniel Cabrera, Garrett Olson, Brian Burres, Radhames Liz, and Chris Waters.
Another of Guthrie's good years was 2010, where he had "only" an 11-14 record as he threw 209.1 innings with a 3.83 ERA. That bullpen included Alfredo Simon, Matt Albers, and Mark Hendrickson. The offense scored a total of 613 runs the entire season. The team had three managers and started out by going 2-16. Cesar Izturis, Ty Wigginton, and Miguel Tejada (the second time around) figured prominently on that team. The O's averaged 3.6 runs scored per game when Guthrie started that year.
In all, Guthrie went 6.1 innings per game started as an Oriole. After watching some of the pitchers in recent years, O's fans can attest that is not a gimme for any pitcher. He made a quality start (6 IP or more, 3 ER or less) in 57% of his Orioles starts. This is not a gimme either. The 2013 Orioles had quality starts 48% of the time. Guthrie took 21 losses in quality starts in his O's career and had the bullpen lose a win for him in another 17 starts. He played on many loser teams - he was not a loser.
As a pitcher, he had his faults, things that caused him some problems. The worst of which is that he gave up home runs like they were going out of style. 1.2 home runs per nine innings is not good. As well, when you only strike out 5.5 batters per nine innings, you are exposed to more batted ball bad luck potential. He was also prone to hitting batters.
Off the field, Guthrie had just the kind of eccentric behavior to endear him to Baltimore fans - or at least the ones who didn't care about his won-lost record. He was known for riding his bicycle to the stadium and enlisting teammates to do the same. He was unafraid to laugh at himself, especially his fondness for the vocal stylings of Justin Bieber. He continues to show the same sort of humor on his Twitter page.
There was sadness on Camden Chat when Guthrie was traded to the Rockies in February 2012 for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. Stacey summed up the trade by saying, "Jeremy Guthrie traded to the Rockies for two players not likely to be any better than Jeremy Guthrie." That turned out to not be true for the magical 2012 season. Hey, we're not perfect. The 211.2 innings he pitched with a 4.04 ERA for the Royals in 2013 would have been welcome for the Orioles, though, and his three-year, $25 million contract wouldn't look too bad in the current market either.
Guthrie is not Jim Palmer. He will not be getting a statue out with all of the others. He doesn't need to be to have been one of the best pitchers in the history of the franchise. He takes his well-deserved place as the 37th-greatest Oriole and will forever be the president of our hearts.