It’s finally happened. After months where it’s seemed inevitable, the Orioles secured a new MLB record for home runs allowed by a team in a single season all for themselves on Thursday night against the Rays. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of history-making that comes along with new numbers dropping onto banners on the Warehouse and a game-pausing victory lap.
The Oriole have unseated the old record-holders, the 2016 Reds, who allowed 258 home runs over a full season. What makes the 2019 Orioles the 2019 Orioles is that it’s only taken them 128 games to break this record. They tied the Reds record in their 127th game of the season on Wednesday night.
After a season of giving up home runs left and right, it was Asher Wojciechowski who gave up the record-setting home run to Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows.
Much has been written about the home run-heavy era in which baseball now finds itself. Whether changes to the baseball are to blame, the launch angle revolution, or some combination of these and other explanations, home runs are up everywhere. Guys who are seldom thought about outside of their home cities are cranking out 25+ home run seasons left and right.
It’s not just the Orioles pitching staff on the wrong end of this home run revolution. Four other teams entered play on Thursday on pace to give up more home runs than the 2016 Reds did. Not all of these are bad teams like the O’s. The Yankees lead the AL East by nine games despite having given up 210 homers in 128 games. The Phillies sit just 1.5 games out of a wild card spot in the National League even though they’ve given up 204 dingers.
The Orioles stand out from this crowd by virtue of being the worst of the worst. They began Thursday with 41 more home runs allowed than the next-closest team. Put another way, you could remove two-thirds of the comical 61 home runs the O’s have served up to the Yankees and they would still have allowed more home runs than anybody else in baseball with a strong likelihood of eventually breaking the 2016 Reds mark.
Orioles starting pitchers give up home runs. Their regular relievers give up home runs. Their desperate fill-in starters and their “Geez, is there really nobody else who could pitch?” relievers give up home runs. Everybody gives up home runs. And now they’ve made history, with 35 more games still to go to make sure that the record stays theirs forever, or at least until an even worse pitching staff in an even more severe MLB home run era comes along.
Some facts about the Orioles record, current as of the 259th home run and using stats collected from Baseball Reference and Fangraphs:
Orioles who have given up the most home runs
- David Hess - 28
- Dylan Bundy - 25
- Dan Straily - 22
- Gabriel Ynoa - 21
- John Means - 16
Straily stands out for having allowed 22 home runs in just 47.2 innings. Hess, with 28 allowed in 75 innings, is not much better. If you wiped every home run by those two pitchers off the board, the Orioles would still have given up the second-most home runs in MLB.
Orioles who have pitched but not given up any home runs
- Nate Karns
- Chandler Shepherd
- Hunter Harvey
- Jesus Sucre
Karns, with 25 batters faced, had the most action of this quartet. Only Harvey is on the active roster right now. The other 33 players to pitch for the 2019 Orioles so far have all given up at least one home run. Nine have allowed double digit home runs.
Home runs by game
- The most home runs allowed in a single game was 8, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Twins on April 20
- The Orioles have given up at least five homers in 18 games and have lost all 18 of those games. The 18 5+ homer games is a record. They also hold the record for most 4+ homer and 6+ homer games.
- The team has allowed multiple home runs in 67 of their 127 games
- They have only played 22 games where they did not give up a home run. Their record in those games: 16-6
Home runs by count and outs
- 49 of the Orioles home runs have been allowed on the first pitch, the most of any single count
- Their next-worst counts for giving up homers are 1-0 (33 homers) and 1-1 (31 homers)
- The Orioles have given up 28 home runs after having an 0-2 count on the batter
- They have allowed 91 home runs with no outs, 77 home runs with one out, and 91 home runs with two outs
Home runs by men on base
- 150 of the Orioles home runs came with the bases empty, with 109 having men on base
- There have been 74 two-run home runs, 33 three-run home runs, and two grand slams
- An Orioles pitcher has started a game by giving up a leadoff homer 24 times
- The opposing leadoff batter in an inning has homered 53 times
Home runs by inning
- 3rd inning - 39
- 1st inning - 32
- 4th inning - 31
The fewest home runs have been hit in the 8th inning (21) and 9th inning (24). They have also allowed two dingers in extra innings.
Home runs by batting order
- #3 batters - 37
- #4 and #7 batters - 35
- #5 batters - 33
The Orioles have given up the fewest home runs to #9 hitters (17) and #6 hitters (22).
Home runs by opponent
- Yankees (61 home runs, 19 games)
- Red Sox (28 home runs, 16 games so far)
- Twins (23 home runs, 6 games)
- Blue Jays (23 home runs, 13 games so far)
- Rays (22 home runs, 13 games so far)
13 of the 61 Yankees home runs were hit by Gleyber Torres. He has only homered 16 times against non-Orioles pitchers this season. The Orioles giving up 16 home runs in four games against the Padres also stands out.
Other home run splits
- The Orioles have given up 152 home runs in 64 home games and 107 home runs in 63 road games
- They have allowed 175 homers in 78 night games and 84 homers in 49 day games
- Starting pitchers allowed 147 home runs, with relievers giving up 112
- Right-handed batters have hit 170 home runs, while lefties have hit 89
- The team allowed their most home runs so far in March/April, with 75 home runs in 30 games
- The fewest home runs the Orioles allowed in a month was July, when they gave up 42 homers in 24 games
It is probably not a coincidence that the team had its lone .500 month when they gave up the fewest home runs.