Inconsistency at the Top: Hays Marks O’s 7th Straight Different Opening Day Leadoff Man

When leadoff hitter Austin Hays stepped into the batter’s box at Fenway Park on Friday, July 24 – Opening Night of the 2020 season – he made Orioles history…in more ways than one.

Hays, naturally, was the leadoff hitter on the latest-starting O’s team in history thanks to the global pandemic that pushed back the start of the 2020 season by several months.

Austin Hays
Austin Hays is the latest in a 7-year stretch of different Opening Day leadoff hitters for the Orioles

But Hays also made history in a different way: He was the seventh different Opening Day leadoff hitter for the Orioles in the past seven years.

Not since Nick Markakis led off the 2013 and 2014 seasons for the O’s had the team started its season with the same hitter at the top of its lineup.

Prior to Hays’ appearance this year, the Orioles – in their 67-year history in Baltimore – had never gone as many as seven straight seasons with seven different Opening Day leadoff hitters.

Over the past seven seasons, the Orioles’ Opening Day leadoff hitters have been: Nick Markakis (2014), Alejandro De Aza (2015), Manny Machado (2016), Seth Smith (2017), Chris Davis (2018), Cedric Mullins (2019) and Austin Hays (2020).

What is surprising about the turnover at the leadoff spot is that the franchise has had long stretches with consistency at the top.

Al Bumbry led off for seven straight Opening Days (1976-1982). Brian Roberts led off on Opening Day for eight straight seasons (2004-2011). And Brady Anderson led off the Opener for ten straight seasons (1992-2001). 

After the impressive finish to the 2018 season by Cedric Mullins, it looked as though the Orioles might have their next long-term leadoff hitter and center fielder of the future. But Mullins regressed in 2019, opening the door for Hays, who impressed last September but has slumped a bit during the first week of the 2020 season.

Will Hays be able to hold onto the leadoff spot when Opening Day 2021 rolls around? Or will the Orioles extend their new franchise record to an eight straight season with a different leadoff hitter?

Orioles Opening Day Leadoff Hitters by Season

2020 – Austin Hays

2019 – Cedric Mullins

2018 – Chris Davis

2017 – Seth Smith

2016 – Manny Machado

2015 – Alejandro De Aza

2014 – Nick Markakis

2013 – Nick Markakis

2012 – Nolan Reimold

2011 – Brian Roberts

2010 – Brian Roberts

2009 – Brian Roberts

2008 – Brian Roberts

2007 – Brian Roberts

2006 – Brian Roberts

2005 – Brian Roberts

2004 – Brian Roberts

2003 – Jerry Hairston, Jr.

2002 – Jerry Hairston, Jr.

2001 – Brady Anderson

2000 – Brady Anderson

1999 – Brady Anderson

1998 – Brady Anderson

1997 – Brady Anderson

1996 – Brady Anderson

1995 – Brady Anderson

1994 – Brady Anderson

1993 – Brady Anderson

1992 – Brady Anderson

1991 – Mike Devereaux

1990 – Phil Bradley

1989 – Brady Anderson

1988 – Jeff Stone

1987 – Alan Wiggins

1986 – Alan Wiggins

1985 – Mike Young

1984 – John Shelby

1983 – John Shelby

1982 – Al Bumbry

1981 – Al Bumbry

1980 – Al Bumbry

1979 – Al Bumbry

1978 – Al Bumbry

1977 – Al Bumbry

1976 – Al Bumbry

1975 – Ken Singleton

1974 – Al Bumbry

1973 – Merv Rettenmund

1972 – Don Buford

1971 – Paul Blair

1970 – Don Buford

1969 – Don Buford

1968 – Don Buford

1967 – Curt Blefary

1966 – Luis Aparicio

1965 – Paul Blair

1964 – Jackie Brandt

1963 – Luis Aparicio

1962 – Johnny Temple

1961 – Jackie Brandt

1960 – Marv Breeding

1959 – Willie Tasby

1958 – Billy Gardner

1957 – Billy Gardner

1956 – Fred Marsh

1955 – Billy Cox

1954 – Bobby Young

 

 

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