If you are a Baltimore Orioles fan like me, perhaps you have wiped the 2004 season totally from your memory bank. That 2004 season saw the Birds finish an incredible 23.0 games out of first place, even though the team had just gone on an offseason spending spree that landed Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro, and Javy Lopez. Those three, however, were not the biggest stories of a season that would be doomed by a pitching staff that included Sidney Ponson, Eric DuBose, and the three-headed monster of Kurt Ainsworth, Bruce Chen, and Dave Borkowski, amongst other underwhelming options.
No, the biggest story for me would be journeyman utility player David Newhan, son of heralded baseball columnist Ross Newhan. How journeyman was Newhan? Well, Baseball Reference officially lists pinch-hitter as one of his positions. Prior to joining the Orioles in June, Newhan had played a grand total of 87 games in the Major Leagues with a whopping four home runs. Of course, baseball being baseball, Newhan would obliterate that total with four home runs and 13 RBIs in his first 12 games with the Orioles. The fun did not stop there, as Newhan went onto drive in 54 runs in just 95 games. Not bad for a pinch-hitter/outfielder/second baseman. The ride came to a jolting stop the following season, as Newhan hit just .202 and drove in only 21 in 96 games.
David Newhan’s ride was fun while it lasted, and Chris Parmelee‘s spectacular arrival this week should remind Orioles fans of Newhan’s 2004 season. Parmelee homered twice in his debut on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies. He went deep again the next game, before seeing that streak stopped cold during Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Phillies. Parmelee, unlike Newhan, has had more than a cup of coffee in the big leagues. He had already hit 24 Major League home runs before being called up to the Orioles, but his smashing debut is still a great story for a team looking for offensive production from its corner outfield positions.
While I think it’s probably a stretch to expect Parmelee to continue his 1.667 OPS pace, he may very well prove to be more than just a quad-A type player. Steve Pearce gave the Orioles consistent production last year in his first extended time in the Bigs, and Newhan did not fall off a cliff until the following season. Only time will tell whether or not Parmelee will flourish the rest of the season in Baltimore. Buck Showalter has shown a knack for pushing the right buttons to get under-the-radar types to perform, and Chris Parmelee could very well be his latest and greatest success story.