#26 - Scott McGregor, LHP (1976-1988)
This Orioles left-hander accomplished something not many ballplayers have — especially not in today’s game — by playing his entire major league baseball career with one team. He’s also known for being a dominant postseason pitcher, compiling a 1.63 ERA over the course of six postseason starts (49.2 innings). And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his mustache, which came to be a trademark of sorts during his playing days. That’s right, I’m talking about Scott McGregor.
The WAR statistic may not have existed back in McGregor’s time, but thanks to the magic of the internet, we know that he was worth 20.2 wins above replacement over the course of his career, according to Baseball Reference. Concurrently, Fangraphs has that number pegged at 24.3. According to that metric, McGregor’s most valuable season came in 1980 when he registered a 4.9 fWAR and 4.5 bWAR.
The left-hander was inducted to the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1990.
Among McGregor’s many appearances on the Orioles’ all-time leaderboards, he ranks fourth in complete games with 83 and sixth in shutouts with 23, which dovetails nicely into his postseason pedigree.
During the Orioles’ 1979 playoff run that ended in heartbreak, he pitched a complete game shutout against the California Angels that advanced the Orioles to the World Series. He threw nine innings in game three against the Pirates while allowing a total of four earned runs and pitched even better in game seven of that series, allowing only two runs over eight innings. Alas, it was not enough to overcome the Pirates. But McGregor would get another shot at a ring a few years later.
Still, the 1979 season was notable on a personal level for McGregor too, as he finished with the best WHIP in the American League at 1.08 and the seventh best ERA at 3.35.
He kept racking up the wins between ‘79 and ‘83, registering the fourth most in the AL in 1980 (20) and fifth most in 1981 (13). He also made his first and only All-Star team in 1981.
Flash forward to Baltimore’s historic 1983 playoff run, when the left-hander gave up two runs (one earned) in 6.2 innings in game one of the American League Championship Series against the White Sox. He followed that up with two runs over eight innings and a nine-inning shutout, both of those efforts coming against the Phillies to lead the O’s to the most recent of their three World Championships.
Originally a West Coast guy, Scott Houston McGregor was born in Inglewood, California, on January 18, 1954 and drafted out of El Segundo High School as the 14th overall pick by the New York Yankees in 1972. Another interesting nugget: McGregor played high school ball with future Hall of Famer George Brett.
McGregor made his way to Baltimore in a trade with the New York Yankees as part of a package that included Rick Dempsey, Tippy Martinez, Rudy May and Dave Pagan. The Yanks received Doyle Alexander, Jimmy Freeman, Elrod Hendricks, Ken Holtzman and Grant Jackson in the deal.
On the day of the aforementioned trade — June 15, 1976 — the Orioles entered play with a 24-31 record, having endured a nine-game losing streak that had sunk their record below .500. Beginning June 15th, they did a complete 180 by winning seven games in a row.
The 22-year-old McGregor made his major league debut later that year, coming out of the bullpen to pitch 0.2 scoreless innings for the O’s. After that initial appearance, he made two starts before the end of the 1976 season and allowed six earned runs over 14 innings, good for a 3.86 ERA.
As a 23-year-old in his first full season, McGregor spent more time in relief than the rotation in 1977, putting up a 4.92 ERA in 24 games out of the bullpen and a 3.46 ERA in five starts. The lefty went on to start 32 games the following year and was a stalwart in the Orioles rotation from that point until 1987.
In his second to last season, McGregor’s performance fell off drastically. He put up a 6.64 ERA in 1987 over the course of 26 total games, with the split being 15 starts versus nine relief appearances.
Unfortunately, McGregor was released by the Orioles on May 2, 1988 after making only four starts. His particularly rough beginning to the year included 18 runs allowed over the course of 17.1 innings.
That does not tarnish his incredible career though. McGregor accumulated 904 strikeouts during his 13 years in the majors — which is the eighth most in Orioles history — despite only averaging 3.8 SO/9. He would finish with a 138-108 record, 3.99 ERA, 4.06 FIP and 1.29 WHIP. His career marks in wins and WHIP rank him sixth and 36th on the Orioles’ all-time leaderboards, respectively.
The mustachioed lefty holds a special place in Orioles history with such a consistent major league career spent exclusively in Baltimore, not to mention his performance in the playoffs and his prominent role on the 1983 World Championship team.