Diner Question: Who are the most underrated players in Orioles history? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dubroff’s Diner

Diner Question: Who are the most underrated players in Orioles history?

One of the most enjoyable things I wrote over the last year was my 26-man all-time Orioles team. I broke it down by position players and pitchers and was struck by how many worthy candidates there were.

With the season on an indefinite delay because of the pandemic, we’re going to open Dubroff’s Diner for your choices on  the most underrated Orioles at each position.

I’m not compiling another 26-man team; this one will have 11, including a designated hitter and reliever.

Some of the same players included on the 26-man team could reappear. However, the first-line players — Jim Palmer,  starter; Gregg Olsen, reliever; Rick Dempsey, catcher; Eddie Murray, first base; Bobby Grich, second base; Cal Ripken Jr.,  shortstop; Brooks Robinson, third base; Adam Jones, Paul Blair and Frank Robinson; outfield; and Ken Singleton, designated hitter — aren’t eligible.

You can leave your choices in the comments below or write to me: [email protected].

When I started working on the team last December, I had a good idea about most of it, but thanks to you, I added some players I hadn’t considered. I hope that’s the case again.

I’ll reveal my choices next week.

This week’s Diner question: Who are the most underrated players in Orioles history?

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 1, 2020 at 7:30 am

    Jeepers Rich, the first name to pop into my head was Bobby Grich. But then I read your 4th paragraph.

    I admit being prejudiced to the players of my youth, and maybe this man is more respected by John Q Public than I think he is, but given his .228 BA and only having 20 Home Runs in over 5700 at bats, I have to nominate Mark Belanger.

    Defensively speaking, outside of Ozzie Smith, I can’t think of a SS I’d rather have playing the 6 hole than the Blade. And if you’d like to talk about the art of bunting, this guy was at the top of the list.

    Yup Mark Belanger is my choice by the slightest of margins over Paul Blair.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 8:27 am

      Blair was my starting center fielder, so I
      don’t think he was underrated, Ken.

    • csquare67

      May 1, 2020 at 10:06 am

      Two players i loved to watch play or hit: Outfielder/1st baseman, all about hustle and hard play, getting the key hits and playing the wall, I present Joe Orsulak. I never hear his name any more, like dust in the wind. The other player may not be quite so underrated and had his best years playing elsewhere, he was slower than a turtle, just faster than a snail and hardly a fielder anymore, but when he came to bat as the DH, you always had to watch, very clutch, I present Harold Baines.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 10:45 am

      Csquare, Orsulak a former coworker of mine at Comcast was certainly underrated, but Baines? He’s in the Hall of Fame.

    • pitter

      May 3, 2020 at 8:59 pm


  2. CalsPals

    May 1, 2020 at 7:48 am

    Rafael Palmeiro, Mark Belanger, Boog Powell & Nick Markakis, thx & go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 1, 2020 at 8:15 am

      CP….for once, I’ve gotta disagree with you on a couple of these.

      Raffy Palmeiro? I’m thinking he’d have be classified as one of the most overrated, drug induced numbers and all. And despite being a blight on the franchise, you’ll find kazillions of Palmiero defenders that will maintain to this day that he is the best 1st baseman in team history. Underrated? Hmmm.

      And how can Boog Powell be underrated when he won a league MVP, was a cornerstone on the best team in franchise history, all the while being practically immortalized with that BBQ stand on Eutaw? Might as well have given him a his statue!

    • CalsPals

      May 1, 2020 at 11:01 am

      You’re allowed to, it’s opinion & you do it respectfully, although quite a few others have also listed their names…go O’s…

  3. Fairwayguy2

    May 1, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Gary Roenicke, Mike Cuellar, Kenny Singleton, Dick Hall

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 1, 2020 at 8:16 am

      I like the Roenicke & Cuellar picks, although with a Cy Young to his credit, and being a member of that 4 man 20 game staff, I’m not sure Cuellar is so underrated.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 8:17 am

      Fairway, Singleton was my DH on the all-time Orioles team.

    • Olney Ogre

      May 1, 2020 at 9:12 am

      C: Gus Tremendous (Triandos) starter for 8 seasons , 3 time AL all star as an Oriole, 30 homer runs hit in Memorial Stadium when it had bushes and no fence, street named after him in Timonium, but often forgotten when Orioles Best are discussed. 2nd choice Andy Etchebarren, two time all star, caught every inning of 1966 World Series Championship, should be in Orioles HOF!
      1b: Boog Powell. As long as fans try to discuss Palmiero in the same sentence as Boog, I say Boog is underrated!
      2b: Rich Dauer, 7 year starter. Made whole infield better . Old fashioned contact hitter.
      3B : Melvin Mora, his 340 batting average in 2004 is still the tops for all Orioles. Twice an all star. More than 150 homers and 660 RBI as an Oriole.
      LF: Brady Anderson. I think he was Orioles best defensive left fielder ever. Three time all star. His fifty homers in 1996 will always be remembered but I like his all around season of 1999 even better
      CF: Mike Devereaux, very good on defense, always hustled
      RF: Nick Markakis, among the Orioles best for nearly a decade.
      Back Up OF: Curt Blefary , his combo of high on base percentage and slugging would be better appreciated in today’s game. Don Buford, top lead off man of his time, John Lowenstein 1.017 OPS in 1982, playoff game winning homer in 1979.
      SP: Dave McNally, 3 time all star. Led league in wins in 1970, 1.95 ERA in 68, twice started 40 games in the season .
      RP: Dick Hall, 65 wins and 60 saves as a reliever. Hardly ever walked a batter or gave up a homer. On WS teams in 66, 69, 70, and 71

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 10:49 am

      Ogre, this is a thoughtful list. But, as others have noted, Powell was hardly underrated during and after his career. McNally has the second most wins in team history and won 20 games four straight seasons. He just wasn’t Jim Palmer.

  4. AtlTim

    May 1, 2020 at 8:16 am

    I would have to say Boog is my first choice, he was a major part of the team that started the Oriole Legacy in the 60’s, and a big part of the World series teams on the 60’s and 70’s. Second is Belanger, same reasons as BRR above.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 8:30 am

      Tim, as others have noted, Boog is hardly overlooked. He was on my all-time team over Chris Davis, Jim Gentile and Rafael Palmeiro.

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 1, 2020 at 8:25 am

    My gosh how soon I forget?

    Rich is it too late to throw the names of Ryan Flaherty (talk about no respect) and one Matty Wieters into the discussion?

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 8:31 am

      There’s never a bad day to mention Flash. Wieters was disrespected by some fans because he didn’t live to their expectations.

  6. Leo Jahn

    May 1, 2020 at 8:44 am

    Melvin Mora. He was a good ballplayer for the Orioles during not so glorious times. Also, he played 3B mostly, a position held also by Brooks, Cal, Decinces and most recently Machado, so it’s easy to forget him. But he had some great years with the Orioles and worked his butt off. Melvin came from the poorest of small towns in Venezuela and he played professional soccer, where he excelled, and also did some boxing.

  7. Phil770

    May 1, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Under-rated, I think of Dick Hall, Bob Boyd, Russ Snyder, Jerry Adair, Doug DeCinces, Dave McNally, Melvin Mora.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 9:04 am

      Some interesting names, Phil.


    May 1, 2020 at 9:27 am

    First the Blade, man was amazing with the glove with him and Brooks on that left side that a lot got through. John Lowenstein man was so so until he came to us

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 10:50 am

      Belanger was my second shortstop on my all-time team. Not sure that he qualifies as underrated, AZ.

  9. smotter

    May 1, 2020 at 9:31 am

    Dave’s Johnson, Elton Hendricks

    • Raymo

      May 1, 2020 at 11:41 pm

      Oh great. Now I’m stuck with the thought of Dave’s Johnson being underrated. Poor guy.

      Is Elton related to Elrod?

    • CalsPals

      May 2, 2020 at 8:13 am

      Is Dave’s related to Davey…go O’s…lol

    • CalsPals

      May 2, 2020 at 8:14 am

      Spellcheck is our enemy sometimes…go O’s…

  10. Nellie

    May 1, 2020 at 9:36 am

    Love this subject, Rich.
    Let’s talk about VERY underrated. How about Don Buford and Davey Johnson? They were the “glue” guys who had their best seasons on Oriole teams that went to the World Series in 1969, 70, and 71. They weren’t underrated at that time as they both received All-Star recognition and MVP votes during those years, 3 of the 4 best W-L records in O’s history. I’m a bit tired of hearing about Brady Anderson, Brian Roberts and a few other “look at me” guys. These guys were winners.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 10:53 am

      Nellie, those are two excellent choices. But don’t disparage Brady and Brian, who were both on my all-time team. They were fine players.

      • DevoTion

        May 1, 2020 at 11:52 am

        Mike Devereaux is the first to come to my mind. Devo was better than Brady in center field. Wish the O’s would have kept those 2 together a few more years, Brady was better in left then center

  11. jackmiller100

    May 1, 2020 at 10:04 am

    BJ Surhoff

    • csquare67

      May 1, 2020 at 10:08 am

      Wow, great one! I forgot about Surhoff!!

    • AZ ORIOLES Fan

      May 1, 2020 at 11:08 am

      Awesome yep forgot him

  12. csquare67

    May 1, 2020 at 10:13 am

    You should put together an all start team of ex-Orioles we traded away before they became great! The GM “I wish I hadn’t done that!” team. We can start with Babe Ruth and Curt Schilling………although Ruth may not count since he was pre-1954.

  13. garyintheloo

    May 1, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Al Bumbry, John Lowenstein, Gary Roenicke and the Flare Dog.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 10:54 am

      If I knew who the Flare Dog was, I could respond.

      • csquare67

        May 1, 2020 at 12:45 pm

        I think Chris Sabo was known as the flare dog, but only played 1 year in Baltimore.

  14. coltrane555

    May 1, 2020 at 10:31 am

    Don Buford, Eddie Watt, Hal (Skinny) Brown

    • coltrane555

      May 1, 2020 at 2:04 pm

      I’d also like to put in a plug for Tommy Davis. 3 1/2 years as a solid DH in the early 70s.

      • Rich Dubroff

        May 1, 2020 at 5:05 pm

        Thank you, Douglas. A good name to consider.

  15. Gpfab

    May 1, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Steve Finley, Mike Devereaux, and BJ Ryan

  16. whiterose

    May 1, 2020 at 11:33 am

    Bob Nieman
    3rd. 2nd. 6th. in Orioles history

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 12:54 pm

      That is an interesting one.

  17. Cooking with Kirby

    May 1, 2020 at 11:49 am

    Chris Hoiles. Excellent hitter. Very underrated defensively, people focused on the low CS percentage but the pitchers all had equal
    or better stats throwing to him than other supposed defensive specialists.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 12:55 pm

      He was nearly my catcher on the all-time team, Kirby. Not so sure he was underrated.

  18. ClayDal

    May 1, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    C- Chris Hoiles
    1B-No obvious choices, Eddie in the HOF, Boog an MVP, Raffy cheated, Jeff Conine by default
    2B-Dave Johnson-more famous as a manager, but when he was here as a player often forgotten
    SS-Mike Bordick-in 2001-02 when he got hurt, the Orioles season’s went south. Now if he would only not talk so much on MASN
    3B-Doug DeCinces-not easy replacing Brooks
    LF-Don Buford-narrowly over BJ Surhoff, great leadoff hitter on the 69-71 teams
    CF-Al Bumbry-ditto for Al. First Oriole to have 200 hits. Didn’t really appreciate him until the year he broke his leg and Larry Harlow and Carlos Lopez played CF
    RF-Nick Markakis-6years and they still haven’t replaced him
    DH-Tommy Davis-first full time Orioles DH
    SP-Mike Cuellar-compared to Palmer and McNally never got as much love nationally. Hurt by his poor English.
    RP-Pete Richert-great sideburns

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 12:56 pm

      Some good and thoughtful choices there.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 1, 2020 at 1:54 pm

      Clay …this is like the all-time 2nd string team …. how can we say any of these guys were underrated?

    • ClayDal

      May 1, 2020 at 2:30 pm

      Depends on when they were underrated. Davey Johnson, Don Buford, and Mike Cuellar didn’t get the acclaim that their teammates got on the 1969-71 pennant winners. You had 3 Hall of Famers, an MVP, and 2 guys (Belanger and Blair) winning multiple Gold Gloves. Bordick beats out J J Hardy, because on the 1997 team, he was surrounded by All-Stars. Cal Ripken willingly moved to 3B to accommodate him. Bumbry was overshadowed by Murray and Palmer and others when he played. When he broke his leg in 1978, the Orioles playoff hopes went with him. He came back in 79 and they won the pennant and in 1980 when they won 100 games, he had 200 hits. Some could say Markakis was overrated since he never became the superstar that he was hyped to be. But they haven’t replaced him in 6 years. But trying to say who is overrated and underrated is subjective. Joe Rudi with Oakland was considered underrated. He was underrated for so long that Reggie Jackson called him baseball’s most overrated underrated player

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        May 1, 2020 at 3:46 pm

        Good points.. most all of them. You know your stuff. But like I said, these guys were all pretty danged good and even Decinces was appreciated in Bal’more. One guy I’ll argue all day on your list is Cuellar. Sure he was 2nd fiddle to Palmer and McNally, but so was the rest of the league. And with that CY Award sitting on his mantle, somebody must have rated him very highly.

  19. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    May 1, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    Mike Boddicker, Dave McNally, Andy Etchebarren, and Nick Markakis are my underrated Orioles.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      A few intriguing names there, Grand.

  20. TxBirdFan

    May 1, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    I’ll second the vote for Harold Baines. I know he’s in the HOF but that’s largely due to his career in Chicago. Yet he had some of his best years in Baltimore and he was never treated like a HOF’er. I loved when he came up to bat in the clutch with men on base. He came through many a time. Underrated as an Oriole.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 1:23 pm

      Tx, Baines wouldn’t be in the Hall had it not been fir his years in Baltimore. But Hall of Famers are not underrated players.

  21. punkwonkmike

    May 1, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    SP: Milt Pappas, he’s mostly remembered for being traded but he the first homegrown ace and pitched capably when he should have been learning how to throw in the minors
    RP: Randy Myers, forgotten but essential part of the late 90s playoff teams
    C: Chris Hoiles, 23.5 WAR in just under 900 games at catcher is really amazing, no catcher has that higher WAR in fewer games
    1B: Jim Gentile, would be much better remembered if not for Mantle and Marris chasing Ruth the same season he had his career year
    2B: Brian Roberts, none of the Oriole 2B seemed particularly underrated but Roberts would have attained legend status in Baltimore if his prime lined up with one of the playoff eras
    SS: Miguel Tejada, 2004-2006 were three of the best seasons put up by any Oriole shortstop
    3B: Doug DeCinces, could never fill the shoes of a legend but he’s a Hall of Very Good player in his own right
    LF: Don Buford, this was the hardest position, Blefary and Surhoff each have a good case but BJ seems pretty well-remembered and Buford really is an underappreciated part of the 69-71 run
    CF: Brady Anderson, his defense is probably slightly overrated but he was a truly underrated leadoff hitter
    RF: Merv Rettenmund, while Roenicke and Lowenstein get most of the acclaim for parttime O’s OFs, Merv was better than them
    DH: Eric Davis, hard to put a guy on the list who only played a year and a half in Baltimore but Davis was a beast during the ’97 run and was even better during the otherwise largely disappointing ’98 campaign
    Ult: Tim Hulett, 6.0 bWAR in 343 games is pretty great for a utility guy

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 5:08 pm

      A thoughtful list, Mike.

  22. lmterps

    May 1, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Bumbry for sure and as for pitchers I think that Tippy Martinez was very underrated.

    • wirpls

      May 1, 2020 at 12:57 pm

      How about one of the original Baby Birds, Wes Stock? Over a 5 year period in the early 60’s he won 17 games in relief including 1963 when he went 7-0.

      • Rich Dubroff

        May 1, 2020 at 5:07 pm

        Wes Stock, now that’s an original one. Thank you.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 5:07 pm

      Thank you, Leo.

  23. Mrfrozenrope

    May 1, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    1B – LEE MAY

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 1:40 pm

      Some interesting choices there, too, frozen rope.

    • TxBirdFan

      May 1, 2020 at 2:48 pm

      I agree with most of frozen ropes picks. But Albert Belle?????

    • CalsPals

      May 1, 2020 at 6:13 pm

      Agree, Joey was a different guy, at least as an O he didn’t get caught w/a corked bat…go O’s…

  24. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 1, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    I guess I’m missing the boat with this question. I guess my problem is with the word “underrated”. About 90 percent of the names listed above were solid players,hardly any of which I’d call underrated. My choice of Belanger included now that I think about it.

    To me … the underrated guys were the good players that we can barely remember anymore. Dan Ford anyone?

  25. maurerco1

    May 1, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    How about Al Bumbry, Richie Coggins, and Don Buford?

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 5:04 pm

      Interesting outfield alignment, Maureco.

  26. Birdman

    May 1, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    The Big Bopper, Lee May, and a couple of the all-time top MLB pinch hitters, Terry Crowley and Jim Dwyer.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 1, 2020 at 5:04 pm

      Those are some good ames, Birdman.

  27. Bancells Moustache

    May 1, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    OF-Joe Orsulak. Solid ballplayer here who had a nice little career.
    OF-Nate Mclouth. Integral piece on one of the most entertaining Oriole teams ever.
    OF- Larry Sheets. Plenty of pop in an awful era of O’s baseball
    3B- Doug Decinces. Sandwiched between his magnificent predecessor and successor, Decinces often gets forgotten.
    SS- Mike Bordick. Remembered as Cal’s replacement, and oft-maligned color man, Bordy could play.
    2B- Davey Johnson. Great keystone glove and timely hitting. The O’s record in his time speaks for itself
    1B- Randy Milligan. Moose was the man.
    C- Caleb Joseph. Much derided for his lack of RBI’s, Joseph was a good defender and delivered hits when you needed them.
    P- Scott Erickson. The late 90’s team was REALLY good, and Erickson was everything you want in a number 2 starter
    Manager- Paul Richards. Known more for his player development, Richards led an Orioles team that wasn’t all that talented to a second place finish in 1960 and a 95 win third place in 1961, when the AL East was dominated by a Yankee team that was apparently kinda good

  28. [email protected]

    May 1, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    Another good exercise, Rich, to keep us thinking about the game as we await it’s return. My list includes:
    Jerry Adair- 2nd base. Not much at the plate but a very slick fielder. He saved many runs defensively.
    Gary Roenicke and John Lowenstein- this rotation in the outfield put up great numbers in the late 70’s.
    Nick Markakis- led the league a couple of times in outfield assists and was solid at the plate for the O’s.
    Stu Miller- solid relief pitcher.
    Moe Drabowski- see Stu Miller above, plus was a great clubhouse presence.
    Al Bumbry- consistent hitter for several seasons, played solid CF and got some stolen bases along the way.

  29. Leo Jahn

    May 1, 2020 at 5:22 pm

    The most productive LF in Orioles history. The three players who shared LF in 1982 combined for a .298/.392/.515 slash line with 43 HR and 120 RBI’s. The names? Benny Ayala, John Lowenstein and Gary Roenicke. That’s how good Earl moved his pieces back then, and none of these guy were considered superstars

    • Raymo

      May 2, 2020 at 12:08 am

      That sure was a prolific platoon, and so much fun to watch. Earl got the best out each one of those guys.

  30. Raymo

    May 2, 2020 at 12:04 am

    In the current century, Erik Bedard and Chris Tillman were significant contributors in the brutal AL East.

  31. coltrane555

    May 2, 2020 at 10:17 am

    One player I haven’t seen mentioned is Jackie Brandt. He didn’t hit for much (~740-50 OPS) but he was the Orioles first regular centerfielder from 1960 through 1965. He was traded after the ’65 season to the Phillies for Jack Baldschum, who was part of the package that brought Frank Robinson to Baltimore. The rest is history.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 2, 2020 at 1:35 pm

      Jackie Brandt is a fascinating choice.

  32. geevee3

    May 2, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    I once saw Tommy Davis batting in the bottom of the ninth, two out, two on, two strikes, get badly fooled by a pitch outside. Realizing that he could neither stop his swing, nor reach the pitch, he let go of his bat mid-swing. It looked to be about six inches from his near hand when it ticked the ball foul. Next pitch: game winning double in the gap!
    What he or Tony Oliva could have done with good legs would have been quite a sight.
    I still believe it is the best at bat I have ever seen, and I too have been an Oriole fan since 1966.

  33. PC in OC

    May 2, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    Clay Dal, You must have got your names all mixed up. I know you meant to say Palmer, not Bordick, talks toooooo much. Also, Let’s not forget, Hoiles, could not throw out a . How about Willie Maranda!

    • ClayDal

      May 2, 2020 at 7:52 pm

      Never saw Willy Miranda so can’t comment on him. That’s why I didn’t include Jim Gentile , Gus Triandas or Milt Pappas. Hoiles was pretty much by default-Weiters was a first round pick, Dempsey a World Series MVP. Hoiles had some great years in the early to mid 90’s but was overshadowed by the Ripken hype. Palmer talks a lot too, but he is more informative and entertaining than Bordick. Bordy isn’t terrible as an analyst, just needs to cut back on his filibustering

  34. tadtattersall

    May 3, 2020 at 12:37 am

    Dauer, Bumbry, Decinces,Hoiles, Dennis Martinez and Tippy Martinez.

    • tadtattersall

      May 3, 2020 at 12:44 am

      My bad as i forgot Lee May!

  35. coltrane555

    May 3, 2020 at 12:33 pm

    Another player I’d like to make a case for is reliever Mark Williamson. Over an 8 year career from 1987 through 1994 (all with the Orioles), he appeared in 365 games, seventh most in Orioles history, mostly as the prime setup man for closer Gregg Olson, compiling a lifetime ERA of 3.86.

  36. Chuck

    May 3, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    Defining “underrated” seems to avoid consensus. So, I’ll go with some of the players who gave me boyhood thrills but never seemed to make it to very many big lists, like those mentioned above.

    Steve Barber
    Stu Miller
    Dick Hall
    Pete Richert
    Jim Gentile
    Jerry Adair
    Jackie Brandt
    Russ Snyder

    Special footnote: I recently saw somebody’s list of the 100 best baseball announcers of all time, and neither Chuck Thompson nor (of course) Bill O’Donnell was on it. But I learned a lot of baseball in a very exciting way from those two guys. I’d consider CT a major oversight.

    Ahhh, memories.

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