Your All-Time Orioles team: The position players - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Your All-Time Orioles team: The position players

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Many thanks to all of you who responded to last week’s request to contribute to the naming of an all-time Orioles team. Thursday, we revealed the 10 pitchers. Today, it’s time for the 16 position players.

I was overwhelmed by the knowledge of our readers, especially those who named players from the ’50s, ’60’ and ’70s, before I arrived in Baltimore.

Many of the suggestions forced me to consider players I hadn’t thought about and made for a much harder decision.

Again, thanks for your input. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Catchers: Rick Dempsey, Matt Wieters

The Orioles have had some very good catchers, but no great ones. Dempsey stands out because he played 12 seasons for the Orioles, won the World Series MVP in 1983, and caught the most games in team history.

Dempsey never made an All-Star team, and that’s a shame. He wasn’t a standout offensively, hitting .238 with the Orioles with a .674 OPS.

It was on defense that he stood out, although he never won a Gold Glove. In his career, he threw out 40 percent of runners attempting to steal, and in 1977 threw out 58 percent in 91 games.

Matt Wieters got lots of support from our readers, and I’m glad he did. For much of his eight-season Orioles career, he was unfairly maligned by a segment of the fan base who never forgave him for not becoming a superstar.

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Wieters was the fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft and was a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner.

I’ll remember him for coaxing a starting pitching staff that included Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and a young Chris Tillman to within a game of the 2012 American League Championship Series.

Also considered: Chris Hoiles, Gus Triandos, Andy Etchebarren

I wavered between Hoiles and Wieters but decided to go with defense over offense. Hoiles was clearly the superior offensive catcher. This was perhaps my closest call on the squad.

An argument also could be made for Triandos, who played eight seasons with the Orioles, from 1955-1962, so he was long before my time. He was great at stopping the running game, throwing out 47 percent of runners attempting to steal in his career. Triandos was a three-time All-Star.

Several fans implored me not to forget Etchebarren, who died in October. Etchebarren was with the Orioles for 12 seasons, but was the primary catcher in only two, 1966 and 1967, when he was named to the All-Star team.

First base: Eddie Murray, Boog Powell

This was an easy choice. Murray was a seven-time All-Star with the Orioles, won the American League Rookie of the Year in 1977 and won three Gold Gloves. He finished second in the MVP race in 1982 and 1983.

Murray had 343 home runs, second in club history, and had a 51.9 WAR in 13 Orioles seasons, also second in club history.

He played with four other teams, but he’s always identified as an Oriole.

Powell was a solid hitter, but analytically he’s been downgraded as a first baseman.

He was a four-time All-Star and was the AL MVP in 1970 when he hit 35 home runs, 114 RBIs and had an outstanding .962 OPS.

Also considered: Rafael Palmeiro, Chris Davis, Jim Gentile

Palmeiro, who played precisely 1,000 games with the Orioles in seven seasons, is a polarizing figure among Oriole fans. His stats were excellent but will always be viewed skeptically because of his PED suspension in 2005.

In any case, Powell’s longevity wins out.

I hope that 10 years from now Davis’ career will be remembered not only for his recent horrible offense,but for the thrills he provided with his home runs in 2013 and 2015 and the heroic pitching performance in Fenway Park in May 2012.

Gentile was long the club’s single-season leader with 46 home runs and 141 RBIs in 1961, but he played only four seasons with the Orioles.

Second base: Bobby Grich, Brian Roberts

When I began this project, I had no idea whom I would pick at second, but early last month at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, I began to hear chatter that perhaps Grich would get Hall of Fame consideration.

Grich was on the Hall of Fame ballot once, in 1992, and got just 2.6 percent of the vote, but he deserves batter.

He was a four-time Gold Glove winner and three-time All-Star in seven Orioles seasons before moving on to the California Angels.

In his five complete seasons, 1972-1977, Grich’s WAR was between 6.0 and 7.3.

Roberts was a strong player on terrible Orioles teams. He led the American League in doubles twice and stolen bases once. Injuries in his final four Orioles seasons, 2010-2013, clouded impressions of him.

Also considered: Roberto Alomar, Davey Johnson, Jonathan Schoop

Alomar had three outstanding seasons with the Orioles, but that’s not enough here. Johnson was a good player, but Grich’s arrival forced him out of Baltimore. Schoop had a nice run, but a relatively short one.

Shortstop: Cal Ripken Jr., Mark Belanger

Ripken is the obvious one, but Belanger is nearly as obvious.

Ripken not only played in 2,632 consecutive games, a record that will never be broken, but he was a 19-time All-Star, something you also might not see again.

He won two MVPs and was the 1982 Rookie of the Year. Ripken was also an eight-time Silver Slugger.

In 1990, he played 161 games at shortstop and committed just three errors.

Belanger had the fourth-highest WAR of any Oriole, trailing only Ripken, Murray and Brooks Robinson. That’s amazing, but as you might suspect, nearly all of his WAR came from his sterling defense.

Belanger hit just .227 as an Orioles with a subpar .580 OPS. He was an eight-time Gold Glove recipient and made the All-Star team in 1976 when he hit a career-high .270.

Also considered: Luis Aparicio, J.J. Hardy, Miguel Tejada, Mike Bordick

Aparicio is a Hall of Famer, but that’s primarily because of his 10 excellent seasons with the Chicago White Sox. He played only five with the Orioles, winning the Gold Glove twice.

Hardy had a fine seven-season career with the Orioles, and Tejada set the team single-season RBI record with 150 in 2004, but he played just five seasons with the Orioles. In 2001, Bordick made just one error in 117 games.

Third Base: Brooks Robinson, Manny Machado

Robinson is a given. The Hall of Famer won an unbelievable 16 Gold Gloves and was an 18-time All-Star. Robinson won the 1964 MVP, and will be forever remembered for his stellar play at third base in the 1970 World Series.

Had Machado stayed with the Orioles, it would have been interesting to see if he could have come close to Robinson in fans’ minds. He was a joy to watch, and I’ll always remember his play at third base at Yankee Stadium, where he fielded a ground ball near the stands and made an on-target throw to first.

Also considered: Melvin Mora

Had there been a utility player, Mora could have been the guy. He played every position but pitcher and catcher, but was primarily a third baseman. In 2004, Mora hit .340, highest in club history.

Outfield: Frank Robinson, Paul Blair, Adam Jones, Brady Anderson, Nick Markakis, Ken Singleton

Cincinnati traded Robinson to Baltimore after the 1965 season, referring to him a “not young” 30, and he was the key to the Orioles’ first world championship and a run as the best team in baseball. Even though he played just six seasons with the Orioles, and later became the game’s first African American manager with Cleveland, he’s remembered as an Oriole.

In 1966, Robinson won the Triple Crown, MVP and World Series MVP.

Blair was the best centerfielder in franchise history, winning eight Gold Gloves.

Although Jones wasn’t a leftfielder, and wasn’t a better centerfielder than Blair, he’s one of the three best outfielders in team history.

The most important player on the team during its 2012-2016 run, Jones had the fourth-most hits in team history and fifth most home runs and RBIs.

He won four Gold Gloves in center and was a five-time All-Star.

Anderson was also among the club leaders in many offensive categories. He had the fifth-most hits and doubles, is fourth in runs scored and is the team leader with 307 stolen bases. He hit 50 home runs in 1996, a team record surpassed by Chris Davis in 2013.

Markakis was an underappreciated player in his nine seasons. He won two Gold Gloves and was a steady influence on the field and in the clubhouse while hitting .290.

We’ll make Singleton the DH. In 10 seasons, Singleton hit .284 and was the regular designated hitter in 1982, 1983 and 1984.

Also considered: Al Bumbry, Harold Baines, B.J. Surhoff

Leaving Bumbry off was the toughest call I had to make. Bumbry hit .282 with 252 stolen bases in 13 seasons. If rosters ever expand to 27 players, he makes it.

In three iterations lasting seven seasons, Baines hit .301 with the Orioles, but he went into the Hall of Fame with the White Sox, for whom he played 14 seasons.

Surhoff played eight seasons with the Orioles, and hit .291. He played until  he was 41.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

 

 

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Fareastern89

    January 3, 2020 at 7:37 am

    You make excellent arguments for your choices here, Rich. (Powell was such a more engaging personality than Murray, but obviously that’s not what you’re measuring.) With all due respect to Dempsey, Triandos, et al., catching clearly has been the team’s weakest spot over the years — let’s hope that starts to change beginning in 2021 or 2022.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2020 at 9:24 am

      Thank you, Fareastern.

  2. Orial

    January 3, 2020 at 8:53 am

    Rich you left no rock unturned in compiling this list. An idea going forward which you may have under consideration already—all time utility players. You’re so thorough I can’t add a thing. Catching appears wide open going forward(no big names). Hmmm you hear that Adley?

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2020 at 9:24 am

      Mora would be my choice for a utility player. Thanks for the encouragement, Orial.

  3. Birdman

    January 3, 2020 at 9:49 am

    Rich, I think you have come up with an excellent, well thought out list.

    My only point of disagreement would be your choice of Brady Anderson over Al Bumbry. Bumbry’s .282 career BA, including 3 seasons over .300, in the 1970s and early 1980s, in my opinion, is much more impressive than Brady’s .256 career average during the 1990s era of inflated offensive stats.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2020 at 10:00 am

      Thank you, Birdman. Anderson’s OPS with the Orioles was .794 to Bumbry’s .725 and is WAR was 34.9 to Bumbry’s 24.7.

    • Camden Brooks

      January 3, 2020 at 10:03 am

      Fair point. I always respected his service to our country.

      • Bancells Moustache

        January 3, 2020 at 10:23 am

        I gotta lean towards Bumbry too. Any man who humped it in ‘Nam is a Hall of Famer in this old paratroopers book. Brady’s WAR gets inflated by the *ahem* interesting numbers he put up in 1996. Plus, Al has the hardware; AL ROTY and most importantly that shiny ring from 1983 which trumps all.

    • CalsPals

      January 3, 2020 at 4:51 pm

      Agree, have always been skeptical of his 50 homer season…go O’s…

  4. Bancells Moustache

    January 3, 2020 at 10:06 am

    Tough to quibble with this list Rich. I was all set to mount my soapbox for Bumbry, but the other guys on the OF roster all have pretty airtight cases. The Hoiles/Wieters argument could go on for eternity. I myself am in the Hoiles camp but, again, it’s a tough call. Here’s hoping a certain young man from Oregon can do enough on his rookie deal to knock both of them off the list.

    • Bancells Moustache

      January 3, 2020 at 10:37 am

      Lining it up, let’s go with this

      1- Jones 7
      2-B Robinson 5
      3- F. Robinson 9
      4- E Murray 3
      5- C Ripken 6
      6- K. Singleton DH
      7- Grich 4
      8- Dempsey 2
      9- Blair 8

      SP Palmer

      That’s pretty fierce, should stack up well against any other all time lineup outside of New York and maybe St Louis. Even then, I’m taking Palmer over Ford or Guidry, whereas Bob Gibson would shut down everyone.

  5. Tony Paparella

    January 3, 2020 at 10:19 am

    Well done Rich and obvious you put much time and effort into it.Though he did not have much of a bat Mark Belanger ranks right up there as actually being one of the all time best defensive shortstops in the history of the game.Sorry I omitted him myself in favor of Willy Miranda basically as old time favorite of mine while growing up.Gus Triandos actually was tied with Yogi Berra at one time for most homeruns hit by a catcher in a year (30) before the ball got juiced.And he did it in Memorial Stadium.Also as a side note,Triandos does have the record for the least stolen bases in a career (I cannot remember what the critera was as far as at bats) as he had one stolen base in 3907 at bats in 1206 games.But his game was power and defense even though Wilhelm tried to diminish that with his knuckler,lol.Just wanted to mention him again as he is my all time hero in baseball.also I also wanted to mention Bob Boyd at first base in the 50’s.He played 5 years with the Orioles and hit over .300 four of those years (3 years as a full time player)though he had very little power.He did not start playing in majors until he was 31 years old coming from the Negro Leagues.Just wanted to share some of my thoughts and hope I am not wasting everyones time with a little history.Thanks again Rich for a thorough job.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2020 at 11:59 am

      Thank you, Tony.

  6. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 3, 2020 at 10:22 am

    Nothing wrong with you list Rich … but I’m going to agree with Birdman in that Al Bumbry should make this list ahead of Brady Anderson. I can’t really put my finger on what I have against Brady other to say Anderson’s offensive numbers were pumped up by playing in a bandbox of a stadium and possibly with a little help from modern chemistry. Maybe I’d have a larger appreciation for him if the guy could just have hit .300 a couple of times.

    Bumbry was everything you’d want (and we’ve lacked) in a lead off hitter. He set the table for the big boys and he stole and ran the bases with the best of ’em. Not much of arm outfield arm, but he certainly could cover some ground in center. He was a winner.

    I’d also put him on my team in leiu of Markakis.

    WARs be-danged.

    • whiterose

      January 3, 2020 at 12:09 pm

      WAR should always be danged.
      Earl Wilson had higher WAR than Frank Robinson in 1966 Triple Crown year.

  7. kaj21206

    January 3, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Any Orioles outfield needs to include the platoon of Lowenstein and Roenicke. Dump Anderson and Jones.

    • Camden Brooks

      January 3, 2020 at 12:39 pm

      You only have to dump Anderson…Lowenstein and Roenicke are as one!

  8. ZantiGM

    January 3, 2020 at 11:14 am

    C-Wieters-Triandos-Hoiles-Orsino
    1B-Murray-Powell-Palmeiro-Gentile
    2B-Grich-Davey Johnson-Roberts
    SS-Ripkin-Aparicio-Belanger
    3B-Brooks-Manny-Mora-Decinces
    DH-Baines-Singleton-Larry Sheets
    OF-F.Robinson-Blair-Markakis-Bumbry-Jones-Anderson
    PH-Crowley-Benny Ayala-Motton-Bob Boyd-Bob Johnson
    SP-Palmer-Mussina-Flanagan-McNally-Boddicker-Cuellar-Dennis Martinez
    RP-Britton-Olson-Tippy Martinez-Dick Hall-Stu Miller-Randy Myers
    All-Time Favorite Orioles:
    Palmer
    Brooksie
    Blair
    Britton
    Lowenstein
    Dobson
    Boddicker
    Bunker
    Drabowsky
    MGR-Weaver-Richards-Davey Johnson-Buck-Altobelli
    GM-Dalton-Peters-Gillick-Richards

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2020 at 12:01 pm

      Phil, if the rosters ever expand to 44, you have the scoop.

    • Birdman

      January 3, 2020 at 12:37 pm

      Enjoyed seeing the reference to John Orsino … when I was a kid, he was our next-door neighbor in a Baltimore apartment development.

  9. eddierockguy

    January 3, 2020 at 11:33 am

    i think your final selections were very good .always tough calls when this kind of thing is done .. Props to all who contributed

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2020 at 12:04 pm

      Thank you, eddie.

  10. Camden Brooks

    January 3, 2020 at 11:41 am

    As a side note, Cal not winning the GG in 1990 with his 3 errors was just criminal.

  11. Nellie

    January 3, 2020 at 11:52 am

    This is great Rich. Very enjoyable to compare eras. Since I rank team success and defense above most else, I have to put Davey Johnson ahead of BRob. Davey had 7 solid years. His 3 best were the O’s 3 greatest (69-71) and he was 3rd in ROY voting in 66. All World Series teams. He also won 3 gold gloves ( Roberts 0) and made 3 all star teams ( Roberts 2). Durability to me is important. He had 500+ at bats in 6 of his 7 season while Roberts was 6 in13 seasons. I believe that Grich came up as a shortstop. He and Davey played in the same infield in 1972. Their catching situation was a disaster and they traded Davey for that “5 tools guy”, Earl Williams who immediately became a bust. Oh, and Davey hit 43 HR’s in Atlanta.

    While catcher has been a weak spot over the years, left field has been also. I think Don Buford should at least have been considered. While he played all outfield positions plus a little 2nd and 3 base for 5 solid years, left field was his spot with Blair in center and Frank in right. While he was very underrated, he had more American League MVP votes between 1968-1971 than any Oriole position player not named Frank, Boog and Brooks.

    Love your work, Rich.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2020 at 12:04 pm

      Thank you, Nellie. I looked at Buford, but his five years didn’t compare with the five years of the others.

  12. whiterose

    January 3, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    Great to remember all these guys.
    No problem with any selections.

    But no Floyd Rayford at 3rd ? Come on !

  13. BirdsCaps

    January 3, 2020 at 3:36 pm

    First, did anyone hit bingo and have a matching list with Rich? Also, it was nice to see mora as an honorable mention. While I was in the early stages of my list, I penciled him in but somehow forgot Manny. I also concur with your take on Crush (or as I now call him Cash). He had amazing seasons in Baltimore during the few “good” years. However, they are harder and harder to remember the longer he performs at laughable levels on at the plate. It would be a big boost for his image if the orioles would just bite the bullet (a year or two too late) and release him. Side note: why are to Orioles so late to the party for everything (Not releasing Cash (see Boston With Kung Fu Panda), analytics, international market, Trading Machado and others)?

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2020 at 7:28 pm

      There was no one with a matching list. I saw some with 20 or 21, but one higher.

  14. Camden Bird

    January 3, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    I have two gripes: no consideration for Doug DeCinces? And most of all, no consideration for Don Buford?

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2020 at 7:28 pm

      DeCinces had a fine nine years, but not close to Robinson and Machado.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 3, 2020 at 7:29 pm

      Buford had a good five years, but others were better.

  15. cedar

    January 3, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Great list. There are so many good oriole to choose from that when I was making my own list to contribute it looked amazingly like the 70’s lineups that I grew up with as opposed to a less biased list such as below. I especially liked seeing Mark Belanger making the cut. Always one of my favorite players back when defense was a more important aspect of the game. I’ll also chime in as many others did and select Bumbry over Anderson. Maybe it’s sentimental, but I miss the days of the Blade and the Bee playing up the middle.

  16. CalsPals

    January 3, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Great job Rich, still a big fan of Palmeiro, funny how Anderson pops 50 HR one time in a career, built the way he was & never tested positive, still remember his ridiculous photo with his shirt off…hopefully Adley will last beyond his rookie deal & stay an O for a while…go O’s…

  17. DidicoyRoy

    January 12, 2020 at 10:26 pm

    Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions, regardless of how they arrived at it, but I’m curious how many folks made their choices based on eye test (they actually SAW Mssrs. Gentile. Triandos et all play) versus perusing Baseball Reference for stats.
    I believe there are probably more fans on here that saw Blade and Blair and The Bee play than didn’t, which it what I love about the Orioles fandom. We have a weirder, perhaps quirkier history than most franchises, and I love seeing it celebrated here.
    Keep up the great work, Rich!!

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