And still a few more highlights from 2021

While wondering if the ball dropping on New Year's Eve impacts a team's dWAR ...

Does a high-profile, highly paid player missing an entire season due to injury, surgery and an August retirement qualify as a memorable moment in 2021?

Chris Davis belongs on the list, wherever he's slotted.

Davis made an impact without dressing for a single game in the regular season, quitting with one year remaining on his franchise-record $161 million contract.

Thumbnail image for Davis-HR-Swing-Black-Sidebar.jpgTwo at-bats in the Orioles' first spring training game were the extent of Davis' baseball activity. He underwent arthroscopic surgery May 19 in Dallas to repair the labrum in his left hip, and a degenerative condition hastened the end of his baseball career.

"After an extended time dealing with my injury and recent hip surgery, I informed the Orioles about my decision to retire effective today," Davis said in a statement.

"I want to thank the Orioles partnership group, led by the Angelos family, the Orioles organization, my teammates and coaches, the University of Maryland Children's Hospital with whom I will continue to be involved following my retirement, and of course, Birdland. Thank you all for the many memories that I will cherish forever."

The team issued its own statement that read:

"The Orioles support Chris Davis as he retires from baseball today. We thank Chris for his 11 years of service to the club, to Orioles fans, and to the Baltimore community.

"Athletes have the power to change lives and better their communities, and Chris and his family have done just that. We admire their dedication to those most in need, with hundreds of hours of community work completed, millions of dollars donated, and countless other charitable efforts performed, often without fanfare.

"For every inning played and home run hit, hour of service completed and amount donated, the Davis family has made an immeasurable impact on our city and on Orioles baseball. We send our best wishes to Chris, his wife Jill, and their daughters Ella, Evie, and Grace, each of whom will forever be part of our Orioles family."

Davis' contract, which was finalized in January 2016, paid him $17 million per season with $42 million deferred. Davis still receives his full salary, but the 2022 portion becomes deferred over the next three seasons. He won't receive a lump sum this summer.

Meanwhile, the Orioles no longer must try to fit Davis into a rebuild and attempt to keep the situation from becoming a distraction. The spring training fascination over his reworked swing and stance, and his exhibition numbers, have disappeared like the slugger.

It became official on Aug. 12. And it was one of the biggest news stories for the Orioles in 2021.

* On the field, the season also will be remembered for the Orioles' use of a club-record 62 players - 39 pitchers and 23 position players - which surpassed the previous mark of 58 set in 2019.

Trivia question: Which player was No. 59? Answer below.

Forty-two players pitched for the Orioles last season, including infielder Pat Valaika (twice), super-utility player Stevie Wilkerson and catcher Austin Wynns. That's the most in team history.

Thirty-three players made their Orioles debut in 2021, the third-most in club history behind the 38 in 1954 and 42 in 1955 - the franchise's first two years in Baltimore.

Sixteen players made their major league debuts last season, breaking the record of 15 set in 2018. All 14 pitchers made their debuts out of the bullpen.

The 16 player debuts were the most in the majors, one more than the Cubs or the Angels.

All of this is hard to forget.

* Plenty of games stand out, and one of the most memorable occurred on June 19 at Camden Yards, where the Orioles and Blue Jays combined for nine home runs - six by the hosts - and nearly got into a brawl.

The Orioles' first six hits of the game were home runs, only the second time it's happened since 1961. The Indians did it on June 24, 1989 in Texas.

Rookie Ryan Mountcastle registered the 24th three-homer game in club history and was only the second rookie after Nick Markakis in 2006.

Benches and bullpens emptied on June 19 after Toronto starter Alek Manoah drilled Maikel Franco with his first pitch after allowing consecutive home runs to Mountcastle and DJ Stewart. Manoah was ejected, order was restored and the Jays scored six runs in the ninth to win 10-7.

Also hard to forget, though the Orioles would love to wipe the ending from their memories.

So, to review, I've included the following among the most memorable moments in 2021:

Trey Mancini's comeback
Cedric Mullins' 30/30 season
John Means' no-hitter in Seattle
Mountcastle's record-setting rookie season
Davis' retirement
Records set for players used and debuts
The June 19 game against the Jays

Go ahead and give me your lists in order, with no limits on the number.

Answer: Pitcher Eric Hanhold was the 59th player used when he entered a Sept. 12 game against the Blue Jays. The Orioles lost 22-7, also a memorable moment.

The 47 runs the Orioles allowed in the series were one shy of the club record for a four-game series, set Aug. 9-12, 1993 against the Tigers.

Amid the losses, there were indeed high notes
Sizing up one 2022 rotation candidate
 

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