The Baltimore Orioles aren’t faring very well this season and that trend will likely continue into the next few years. However, they have a storied past that features a pair of the most famous players from the left side of the infield we’ve ever known. Basically everyone who grew up in the 80s or 90s have heard of Cal Ripken Jr. and Brooks Robinson is known as one of the best defensive players of all time. The Iron Man holds the record for most consecutive games played while The Human Vacuum Cleaner has more Gold Gloves that any other position player.
1. Ken Williams, LF (L)
2. Cal Ripken Jr., SS (R)
3. Rafael Palmeiro, DH (L)
4. Eddie Murray, 1B (S)
5. Brooks Robinson, 3B (R)
6. Boog Powell, RF (L)
7. Adam Jones, CF (R)
8. Chris Hoiles, C (R)
9. Brian Roberts, 2B (R)
Jim Palmer, P (R)
Manager: Earl Weaver
1989-98: 415 Runs, 151 HR, 449 RBI, 5 SB, .262 BA/.366 OBP/.467 SLG
Our two candidates for the catcher spot actually played with each other at one point during their careers. Rick Dempsey was Baltimore’s starter during his first stint with the team and returned in 1992 for one final run while Chris Hoiles was just getting his feet wet as a regular. While Dempsey did enjoy success as an Oriole, it’s Hoiles that gets our designation as the All Time starting catcher for his ability to drive the ball and better batting average. While Dempsey was the better defensive catcher, Hoiles was far superior in batting which gave him the edge here. Expect a decent hitting catcher out of Hoiles with the occasional homer.
Honorable Mentions: Rick Dempsey
1977-88: 1,048 Runs, 333 HR, 1,190 RBI, 61 SB, .295 BA/.371 OBP/.500 SLG
Eddie Murray was a quick riser in the Baltimore organization and won a Rookie of the Year Award to impress. After his first year in the league, he would go on to place anywhere between 2nd and 11th in the MVP race within the next 8 seasons. Murray displayed a great mix of power and average and quickly became one of the most feared batters in the Baltimore lineup. In fact, he led the league twice in intentional walks in 1982 and 1984.
Honorable Mentions: Davey Johnson
2001-13: 810 Runs, 92 HR, 521 RBI, 278 SB, .278 BA/.349 OBP/.412 SLG
While Brian Roberts’ career took a turn nobody could’ve seen coming he was a terrific player for Baltimore when healthy. After what appeared to be another all around season for him in 2009, Roberts battled injuries in each of his next four seasons with the team and he was simply never the same player again. However, he was great during his prime years with the team and even earned himself 2 All Star appearances. While never a special player, Roberts was the guy who could do anything for his team. He makes for a great bottom of the order bat who’s ability to get on base and speed make him essentially a second leadoff man.
Honorable Mentions: Del Pratt
Cal Ripken Jr.
1981-01: 1,647 Runs, 431 HR, 1,695 RBI, 36 SB, .276 BA/.340 OBP/.447 SLG
There’s not a more obvious pick at shortstop than Cal Ripken Jr. The hero of many kids growing up in the 80s and 90s, Ripken Jr. was the sensational shortstop that every franchise wanted. He was the icon of the Orioles team for many years and famously known for his historic streak of never missing a game. On the field, he had a great eye at the plate that saw his strikeout and walk rate almost equal at times. He was a decent hitter throughout his career and wasn’t exceptionally great at one specific skillset. Perhaps he was most gifted with health and vision as he was almost always on the field and walked a lot more than most batters.
Honorable Mentions: Mark Belanger, Bobby Wallace, Vern Stephens
1955-77: 1,232 Runs, 268 HR, 1,357 RBI, 28 SB, .267 BA/.322 OBP/.401 SLG
Playing his entire 23 year career in Baltimore, Brooks Robinson was the model defensive stud who could seemingly get everything hit his way. Famously nicknamed “The Human Vacuum Cleaner”, Robinson would go on to win a staggering 16 Gold Glove Awards and will go down as one of the best defensive third baseman in the game. In fact, the 16 awards is the most anyone has ever got. From 1960 to 1974, Robinson was a staple All Star and even won an MVP award during 1964. While not a great offensive player, there’s no one even close to Robinson’s skillset who can defend the third base spot.
Honorable Mentions: Manny Machado, Harlond Clift, Melvin Mora
1918-27: 757 Runs, 185 HR, 811 RBI, 144 SB, .326 BA/.403 OBP/.558 SLG
During his tenure with Baltimore, Ken Willias was known as a high contact hitter with a knack for getting on base. He consistently batted well above .300 and was also a great source of power and speed during his prime. In 1922, he broke out for career highs in runs(128), home runs (39), RBI (155), and steals (37). While his career success didn’t last very long, he still remains the best option for the Orioles at the left field spot and will help shore up that position. He’s a great source of speed for the team and will be someone they can count on for getting on base very frequently.
Honorable Mentions: Brady Anderson, George Stone, Al Bumbry
2008-18: 875 Runs, 263 HR, 866 RBI, 90 SB, .263 BA/.342 OBP/.497 SLG
One of the most iconic Baltimore players I watched growing up, Adam Jones was the franchise icon for the past decade before signing on with the Arizona Diamondbacks this offseason. He was one of the most consistent hitters in his prime and held close to a .280 batting average for many years. He finally tailed off in the past few years which likely caused the rebuilding Orioles to let him walk. Defensively, he won 3 straight Gold Glove Awards and was selected as an All Star 5 times during his stint with the team. There’s no doubt his positive attitude will go a long way in helping the team succeed.
Honorable Mentions: Paul Blair, Baby Doll Jacobson
1961-74: 796 Runs, 303 HR, 1,063 RBI, 18 SB, .266 BA/.362 OBP/.465 SLG
While Boog Powell did play the majority of his career at first base, early career playing time saw him patrol both corner outfield spots. For our offense, we’ll use him in the right field spot with first and left field already occupied. In his 14 years with the team, Powell was great at hitting balls out of the park and being a great source of RBI. He’s the perfect compliment to our lineup that’s filled with a bunch of lefties and will fit well hitting right in the middle of them.
Honorable Mentions: Ken Singleton
1994-98, 2004-05: 589 Runs, 223 HR, 701 RBI, 18 SB, .284 BA/.366 OBP/.520 SLG
While Palmeiro did split his playing career between the Rangers and Orioles, I decided I’d use him for the Baltimore DH spot simply because his bat was too good to turn down. A career first baseman and outfielder early in his career, it was hard to miss his bat in the lineup as he consistently ranked in MVP votes during his prime. During his stints with the Orioles, he wasn’t nearly as effective as his time with the Rangers though he did produce efficient results. However, he’s a great power source in the lineup and will fit nicely as a dangerous home run hitter behind their contact bats.
1965-84: 268-152 Record, 2.86 ERA, 5.0 K/B, 3.0 BB/K
There’s two real candidates we could consider at the pitcher spot as both are Hall of Famers. However, Jim Palmer gets the call after winning 3 Cy Young’s during his career and being named to 6 All Star games throughout his career. The lifelong Oriole, he was very impressive on the mound, though he did play in an era where pitchers historically dominated batters. If he did play in today’s game, there’s a chance Palmer might not even make it into an All Star game. While he also benefited from a tremendous defense behind him, Palmer was great with his fastball command and that certainly helped him have such a great career.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Mussina, Urban Shocker, Dave McNally
The winningest manager in Baltimore history with 1,354 and is 26th on the most wins list. During his tenure with the team from 1968 to 1982, he helped the Orioles reach the playoffs 6 times, including 4 pennant wins and 1 World Series victory. Weaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996 and even had his #4 retired by Baltimore. In his managerial days, he was the traditional old school manager that emphasized pitching, defense, and timely hitting. Even more amazing, Weaver only managed a team with finished with a losing record once.
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