For every team, baseball season is a 162-game beast. All are long. Some are grueling. Some others are simply magic.
It’s that latter category that comes to mind when recounting the top seasons in Orioles history, some of which rank among the most dominant in Major League history. From wire-to-wire winning to surprise summers and heartbreak endings, there is no perfect season. The most memorable come in many shapes and forms.
Here are the best in Orioles history.
In the first year of the Divisional Era, the Orioles rolled to a franchise-record 109 wins behind the Hall of Fame trio of Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer. They also had American League Cy Young Award winner Mike Cuellar and the runner-up for the AL MVP Award, Boog Powell. In the inaugural AL Championship Series, the O's swept the Twins, but they fell to the Miracle Mets in the World Series.
Determined to avenge their upset World Series loss to the Mets in 1969, the Orioles wreaked wire-to-wire havoc on the AL in '70. Responsible were all the same characters from ’69, only this time Powell won AL MVP honors, Dave McNally was the runner-up for the AL Cy Young and Palmer enjoyed his first 20-win season.
The O’s finished the regular season on an 11-game win streak, swept the Twins in the ALCS and beat the Reds in five games for their second World Series championship in five years. Brooks Robinson was the Fall Classic hero, claiming Series MVP honors.
The Orioles enjoyed a return to prominence under new ownership in the summer of '79, when superfan "Wild Bill" Hagy came to represent the newfound enthusiasm around Orioles Magic and the club. Winning helped, too, and the ’79 O’s did a lot of that.
Led by AL Cy Young winner Mike Flanagan, young Eddie Murray and a career year from Ken Singleton, the O’s won the AL East by eight games. They defeated the Angels in the ALCS in four games, then took the Pirates to Game 7 of the World Series.
The last of the true juggernaut Orioles teams of the late 1960s-early 1970s, the ’71 O’s ran away with their third straight AL East title (they won five of six from 1969-74) on the strength of their pitching. They are one of two teams in Major League history to have four 20-game winners in the same season, with Palmer, McNally, Cuellar and Pat Dobson all accomplishing the feat.
Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Powell led the offense, as was typical for the era, with contributions from Don Buford, Merv Rettenmund and others. The O’s swept the A’s in the ALCS to reach the World Series for the third consecutive year, then fell in seven games to the Pirates.
Going solely by regular-season record, the 100-62 Orioles of 1980 should claim the final spot on this list. But they were a second-place team, and that would exclude two of the O’s three championship clubs. We’re not going to do that.
Enter the ’66 O’s, maybe the most important -- even if they weren’t the most dominant -- team in franchise history. Twelve years into their existence, the O’s still had not reached the postseason. That changed the year they traded for Frank Robinson, who won the AL Triple Crown and AL MVP Award in his first season in Baltimore. Robinson led the O’s to the World Series, where they swept the heavily favored Dodgers for their first title.
Honorable mentions: 1980, 1983, 1997, 2014.