Britton with the Baltimore Orioles
|Baltimore Orioles – No. 53|
December 22, 1987 |
Panorama City, California
|April 3, 2011, for the Baltimore Orioles|
(through April 14, 2017)
|Earned run average||3.21|
|Career highlights and awards|
Zachary Grant Britton (born December 22, 1987) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball (MLB). Britton graduated from Weatherford High School in Texas and was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round of the 2006 MLB draft.
Britton, the youngest of three brothers, was raised in Santa Clarita, California. During his only year at Canyon High School, he spent two days in intensive care when he sustained fractures of the skull and clavicle and bleeding in the brain as a result of diving headfirst into concrete while attempting to catch a foul popup during baseball practice with the freshman squad. When he moved with his family to Texas, he transferred to Weatherford High School, where he was an all-state outfielder who also pitched.
Britton was offered an athletic scholarship to attend Texas A&M University. After he was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round (85th overall) of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft, he accepted a $200,000 signing bonus to join the ballclub.
Before the 2010 season, he was considered the Orioles third best prospect according to Baseball America. In a midseason top 25 prospect list, he was ranked the 10th best prospect in all of baseball. Prior to 2011, Baseball America had him ranked second among Orioles prospects.
Even though he was the Orioles' best pitcher statistically during spring training, he was expected to start the 2011 campaign in the minors when he was optioned to the Norfolk Tides on March 29. That all changed when he was recalled five days later on April 3 to replace the injured Brian Matusz on the starting rotation. Britton capped a season-opening three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays by winning his MLB debut that same day in a 5–1 victory at Tropicana Field. He allowed a run and three hits in six innings.
Britton showcased his batting prowess during his first experience with interleague play. His five hits in eight at-bats were the most by any American League (AL) pitcher in 2011. His first major league hit and run batted in (RBI) came on a double off Jason Marquis in the fourth inning of an 8–4 defeat to the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 17. He hit his first big league home run off Brandon Beachy in the third inning of a 5–4 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 3.
Britton was unexpectedly sent to the Bowie Baysox on July 9. After a 5–1 start, he had lost six of his next seven decisions. There was speculation that the Orioles made the move to prevent him from getting a full year of major league service time and thus delaying his eligibility for free agency by a season.
Britton finished his rookie campaign, appearing in 28 games (all starts), pitching to a 4.61 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and an 11-11 record.
On March 26, 2012, Britton was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a left shoulder impingement. He was then transferred retroactively to the 60-day disabled list on June 3, but was reinstated on June 6 to begin his minor league rehab assignment with the Tides. He made his 2012 debut on July 17.
In his second season, Britton pitched to a disappointing 5.07 ERA in 12 games (11 starts), compiling a 5-3 record.
The Orioles optioned Britton to their Triple-A affiliate Norfolk Tides on March 23 to start the 2013 season. He was recalled on April 25. He pitched in only eight games for the Orioles, making seven starts with a 2-3 record in 40 innings of work. Britton made his final start on September 4th, before being moved to the bullpen.
Britton made the opening day roster for the 2014 Orioles season and picked up his first win of the year pitching in relief against the Red Sox on March 31. On May 15, Britton earned his first career save, against the Kansas City Royals, pitching a perfect 9th inning. Britton would assume the role of Orioles' closer for the rest of the season, converting 37 of the 41 save opportunities presented to him, finishing the regular season with a 1.65 ERA. The Orioles would sweep the Detroit Tigers in the 2014 American League Division Series, with Britton earning a pair of saves, in games 2 and 3.
On February 4, 2015 Britton agreed to $3.2 million deal and avoided an arbitration hearing. Britton was selected to his first career MLB All-Star Game after going 1-0 with 23 saves in 24 attempts and a 1.72 ERA in the first half. Britton pitched two-thirds scoreless innings in the game and he also struck out one batter. He finished the year with a record of 4-1, converting 36 of 40 saves while posting a 1.92 ERA. He was tied for 3rd in the American League for Saves.
Britton signed a one-year, $6.75 million contract with the O's on February 5 to avoid arbitration. On June 9, Britton converted his 19th consecutive save to start the season, setting a new Orioles franchise record. Britton extended his streak to 29 games to close out the first half of the 2016 season after converting 27 consecutive saves before the All-Star break. Selected to the All-Star team for his second straight year, Britton pitched to a 2-1 record with a 0.72 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 37 2⁄3 innings.
Britton's 33rd consecutive save to start the season on August 3 set an MLB record for most consecutive saves to start a season by a left handed pitcher and the seventh longest of all-time to start a season. On August 11, Britton set the MLB record for most consecutive relief appearances without allowing an earned run, which was thirty-nine up to that point. In doing so, he lowered his season ERA to 0.56 and converted his 35th save in 35 attempts on the year. On August 22, Britton converted his 38th save of the season in 38 attempts, setting a career-high in saves. He also appeared in his 43rd straight game without allowing an earned run, the longest such streak since earned runs became a stat in 1913. On August 24, Britton allowed his first earned run in 44 appearances in a 10-8 win over the Washington Nationals, ending his MLB-record streak.
Britton pitched in 69 games, throwing 67 innings while allowing only four earned runs for a 0.54 ERA. This broke the MLB record for lowest single-season ERA by a pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched. He finished with 74 strikeouts and just an 0.84 WHIP, going 2-1 and saving all 47 save opportunities he faced. From the beginning of May to the end of the regular season, Britton pitched to an 0.16 ERA, holding hitters to a .160/.222/.195 slash. Britton was not used in a tied 2-2 game in the 11th inning of the Orioles Wild Card game, which resulted in teammate Ubaldo Jimenez allowing a walk off three-run home run. The Orioles lost the game by a final of 5-2.
Britton led the American League in Saves (47), Games Finished (63) and WPA (6.5).
Britton earned his first save of the season in a 3-1 Orioles victory over the Toronto Blue Jays during the second game of the season. It was his 50th consecutive converted save dating back to October 1st of 2015. He also became just the fifth pitcher in MLB history to convert at least 50 consecutive save opportunities. Two days later, Britton shut the door on the Yankees to seal a 6-5 victory, helping the Orioles advance to 3-0 on the year. He tied José Valverde for fourth-most consecutive save opportunities converted with 51. He also tied former Orioles closer Jim Johnson for second most career saves in franchise history, with 122. The very next night, Britton converted his third save of the season and 52nd in a row, tying him for third most all-time with Jeurys Familia. He also took sole possession of 2nd on the Orioles all-time list with his 123rd. Britton earned his fourth save of the season against the Blue Jays on April 13. The save was also his 53rd consecutive converted save, which moved him into sole possession of third place on the all-time list of consecutive saves. Britton moved into a tie for second most consecutive saves the very next night after converting his 54th save in a row. On April 16, Britton was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to left forearm tightness.
Britton is married to Southern Methodist University law student Courtney Leggett. Their first child was born on October 7, 2014. His older brother, Buck Britton, is an infielder who was drafted by the Orioles in the 35th round of the 2008 MLB draft. He also has a cousin, Lance Britton, who hosts The Lance Britton Show on Mile High Sports Radio 1510 in Denver, Colorado.
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- Footer, Alyson (October 9, 2014). "ALCS trio experiencing new joy of fatherhood". MLB.com. Retrieved October 10, 2014.