John Means

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John Alan Means

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Biographical Information[edit]

John Means was the last of 247 players to make their major league debut in 2018. His first appearance came as a relief pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles on September 26th, against the Boston Red Sox in the 3rd inning. He gave up 5 runs in 3 1/3 innings in a 19-3 beatdown typical of the Orioles' wretched season and did not appear again before the end of the season four days later. Jon Berti of the Toronto Blue Jays also played his first game that day, but he started at second, base, making Means the final player to debut that season.

He started the 2019 season in the bullpen for the Orioles, but was soon given a chance to start, given the woeful performance of the team's pitching staff. He proved to be the most effective of the team's pitchers in the first half of the season and was rewarded by being named the Birds' sole representative at the 2019 All-Star Game. However, shortly thereafter, on July 26th he was placed on the injured list and underwent an MRI on his shoulder. However, the exam revealed only normal wear and tear and only rest was prescribed. He finished the season at 12-11, 3.60 in 31 games, having managed to avoid the complete collapse that will befall most pitchers who put up unexpectedly good numbers in the first half. He was named the left-handed pitcher on the 2019 Topps All-Star Rookie Team and finished second behind Yordan Alvarez in the Rookie of the Year vote. He found the going tougher in 2020, as he was only 2-4, 4.53 in 10 starts in a season shortened to 60 games by the Coronavirus pandemic. He did improve his strikeout rate, to 42 in 43 2/3 innings, against only 7 walks.

On May 5, 2021, he pitched a no-hitter in defeating the Seattle Mariners, 6-0, coming as close to a perfect game as is possible without actually getting one: he faced the minimum 27 batters, did not walk anyone while striking out 12, and the only batter who reached first base, Sam Haggerty, did so on a strikeout and a wild pitch, before being promptly erased when he was caught stealing second base. It was already the third no-hitter of the young season, not counting the seven-inning one pitched by Madison Bumgarner a couple of weeks earlier. His game score of 99 was the highest in franchise history; interestingly, this game was the first time of his career that he had recorded an out after the 7th inning. He already had had a great start to the season, going 3-0, 1.70 in his first 6 starts - before throwing the no-hitter. He made 26 starts and ended the season at 6-9, 3.62, pitching 146 2/3 innings, with 134 strikeouts. He stood out on an Orioles team whose ERA was an awful 5.84, while his 6 wins were tied for the team lead (he also led the Birds in innings pitched and strikeouts).

He was the Orioles' opening day starter in 2022 on April 8th, giving up 1 run in 4 innings to the Tampa Bay Rays. He needed 84 pitches for these four inning and was removed from the game, after spring training had been shortened by the 2021-2022 lockout. He pitched another four innings in his second start, on April 13th against the Milwaukee Brewers, but was removed from the game with forearm discomfort. It was clear that it was something serious, and on April 23rd, the team announced that he would require Tommy John surgery, putting him out for the remainder of the season, and likely part of the following season as well. He finally made his return on September 12, 2023, starting for the Orioles against the St. Louis Cardinals, giving up 3 runs in 5 innings and was charged with a 5-2 loss. In the meantime, while he was absent, the O's had turned their fortunes completely around and were now in first place in the AL East. On September 23rd, he flashed his old form by keeping the Cleveland Guardians hitless into the 8th inning before allowing a two-out solo homer to Chris Gimenez. He then retired one more batter to complete 8 innings of work and received credit for a 2-1 victory, his first in two years.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Gabe Lacques (USA Today): "'We need innings': Returning John Means could be key to Orioles making World Series run", Yahoo! Sports, September 13, 2023. [1]
  • Mike Petriello: "What makes Means so interesting for 2021",, January 8, 2021. [2]
  • Jake Rill: "Means flirts with no-no as O's reduce AL East magic number to 5",, September 23, 2023. [3]
  • Zachary Silver and Luca Evans: "O's ace Means to have Tommy John surgery",, April 23, 2022. [4]
  • Andrew Simon and Sarah Langs: "Why Means' feat was a 1st & other wild facts",, May 5, 2021. [5]
  • Joe Trezza: "No chance to no-no: Means' unlikely journey: Orioles' ace proves 'anybody can do it,' K's 12 in masterful performance",, May 5, 2021. [6]

Related Sites[edit]