Zach Britton

Zach Britton
Britton with the New York Yankees
New York Yankees – No. 53
Born: (1987-12-22) December 22, 1987
Panorama City, California
Bats: Left Throws: Left
MLB debut
April 3, 2011, for the Baltimore Orioles
MLB statistics
(through August 26, 2018)
Win–loss record 30–22
Earned run average 3.26
Strikeouts 435
Saves 140
Career highlights and awards

Zachary Grant Britton (born December 22, 1987) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Baltimore Orioles.

Britton graduated from Weatherford High School in Texas and was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round of the 2006 MLB draft. Initially a starting pitcher, Britton converted to a closer and led the American League in saves in 2016 and was named to the AL All-Star team in 2015 and 2016. From September 20, 2015 to August 23, 2017, Britton converted 60 straight saves, an American League record.[1]

Early years

Britton, the youngest of three brothers, was raised in Santa Clarita, California.[2] His mother is of Dominican origin, but he does not speak Spanish.[3] He attended Canyon High School for his freshman year.[4] During baseball practice with the freshman team, 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. He spent two days in intensive care.[5]

His family moved to Texas, and Britton transferred to Weatherford High School. He was an all-state outfielder for the baseball team, and also played as a pitcher.[2][5] Britton was offered an athletic scholarship to attend Texas A&M University.[5]

Professional career

Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles selected Britton in the third round, with the 85th overall selection, of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft.[6] He accepted a $200,000 signing bonus to sign a professional contract and not attend college.[2]

Before the 2010 season, Britton was considered the Orioles third best prospect according to Baseball America.[7] In a midseason top 25 prospect list, he was ranked the 10th best prospect in all of baseball.[8] Prior to 2011, Baseball America had him ranked second among Orioles prospects.[9]


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.[10] That all changed when he was recalled five days later on April 3 to replace the injured Brian Matusz on the starting rotation.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[13]

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.[15]

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.[16] He made his 2012 debut on July 17.[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 4, 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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[19]


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 3723 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.[20]

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 Jiménez allowing a walk off three-run home run. The Orioles lost the game by a final of 5-2.[21]

Britton led the American League in Saves (47), Games Finished (63) and WPA (6.5).

Britton won the Mariano Rivera Award.[22] He placed fourth in the AL Cy Young Award balloting, receiving five first place votes,[23] while also finishing 11th on the MVP ballot.


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 1 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.[24] He was activated on May 2, but on May 6, Britton was again placed on the 10-day disabled list due to the same forearm problem.[25][26] Britton was activated in early July, before the All-Star break. On July 23, he converted his first save since April. The save was his 55th straight, a new American League record. He also moved into sole possession of 2nd place for most consecutive saves converted. On August 23, Britton's streak ended after he gave up two runs in the ninth inning to the Athletics, allowing them to tie the score. His streak ended at 60 and lasted for 704 days. He finished 2017 by making 38 appearances out of the bullpen with a 2-1 record, a 2.89 ERA, and 15 saves. On December 20, it was revealed that Britton suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, ruling him out for 6 months.[27]


Britton agreed to a $12 million, one-year deal with the Orioles in January. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list to begin the season as he recuperated from the ruptured Achilles tendon injury he suffered in December. He made his 2018 debut on June 12, and recorded his first save on June 23.

New York Yankees

On July 24, 2018, the Orioles traded Britton to the New York Yankees in exchange for Dillon Tate, Cody Carroll, and Josh Rogers.[28]

Pitching style

Britton throws three pitches. His lead pitch is a sinker averaging 96 mph (maxing out at 99). He throws a four-seam fastball at the same speed. He also throws a curveball averaging 82-83.[29][30]

Personal life

Britton is married to Courtney Leggett.[31] Their first child was born on October 7, 2014.[32] His older brother, Buck Britton, is a former infielder who was drafted by the Orioles in the 35th round of the 2008 MLB draft and now manages the Delmarva Shorebirds. He also has a cousin, Lance Britton, who hosts The Lance Britton Show on Mile High Sports Radio 1510 in Denver, Colorado.[15]


  1. 1 2 3 Van Valkenburg, Kevin (April 26, 2011). "Great find and terrible loss have buoyed Orioles' Britton". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  2. Ackert, Kristie (July 26, 2018). "Zach Britton pitches a scoreless eighth inning in Yankees debut". Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  3. Gulino, Joey (April 18, 2011). "Around the SCV: Canyon alum is holding camp". The Signal. Santa Clarita Valley, California. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 Ghiroli, Brittany (April 15, 2011). "Britton beats the odds, boost O's". Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  5. "2006 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Rounds 1–10". Pro Sports Transactions. November 20, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  6. Lingo, Will (December 17, 2009). "Baltimore Orioles 2010 top prospects". Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  7. "Midseason Updated Top 25 Prospects". July 9, 2010. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  8. Lingo, Will (November 1, 2010). "Baltimore Orioles 2011 top prospects". Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  9. Ghiroli, Brittany (March 29, 2011). "Britton optioned, will open season in Triple-A". Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  10. "Orioles place LHP Brian Matusz on disabled list". Baltimore Orioles press release. April 3, 2011. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  11. Ghiroli, Brittany (April 3, 2011). "Britton sharp in debut as Orioles sweep Rays". Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  12. 1 2 Zrebiec, Jeff (July 4, 2011). "Orioles' Britton shows off his power stroke". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  13. "Britton notches first big league hit and RBI". June 17, 2011. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  14. 1 2 Zrebiec, Jeff (July 9, 2011). "Orioles demote Zach Britton to Double-A Bowie". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  15. "Orioles activate LHP Zach Britton from 60-day DL and option him to Triple-A Norfolk". Baltimore Orioles press release. June 6, 2012. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  16. Encina, Eduardo A. (July 17, 2012). "Zach Britton more confident as he prepares for Tuesday start". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  17. Snyder, Matt (April 25, 2013). "Orioles recall Zach Britton; is he ready for another rotation shot?". Retrieved April 26, 2013.
  18. 1 2 "Zach Britton Stats, Video Highlights, Photos, Bio". Baltimore Orioles. 2015. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  19. Connolly, Dan. "News flash: Zach Britton is human — scoreless streak snapped at 43 games". Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  20. Encina, Eduardo A. (October 29, 2016). "Orioles' Zach Britton named Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  21. Lauber, Scott (November 17, 2016). "Rick Porcello wins AL Cy Young, despite fewer first-place votes than Justin Verlander". Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  22. Mahiban, Dhiren. "Zach Britton to DL with left forearm tightness". MLB. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  23. Ghiroli, Brittany. "Forearm woes land Zach Britton back on DL". MLB. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  24. Ghiroli, Brittany. "Zach Britton might be out 2 months". MLB. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  25. "Zach Britton ruptures right Achilles, to have surgery". MLB. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  27. "FanGraphs Pitch FX". Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  28. "Brooks Baseball · Home of the PitchFX Tool – Player Card: Zachary Britton". Brooks Baseball. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  29. "Zach Britton drops by Intentional Talk". March 12, 2013. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  30. Footer, Alyson (October 9, 2014). "ALCS trio experiencing new joy of fatherhood". Retrieved October 10, 2014.
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