In January 2020, we published the all-time Orioles team, with an assist from our readers. I thought it would be fun to take another look at it. Today, we’ll reveal the 10 pitchers.
I was overwhelmed by the knowledge of our readers, especially those who named players from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, before I arrived in Baltimore.
Many of the suggestions forced me to consider players I hadn’t thought about and created harder decisions.
One cautionary note: Many readers chose five starters and five relievers. That’s not what I’m going to do. This is more like an All-Star team with the 10 best pitchers, three of them relievers.
Again, thanks for your input. I couldn’t have done it without you.
Jim Palmer, Mike Mussina, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Mike Flanagan, Scott McGregor, Milt Pappas.
Palmer is the easiest choice — the only player who was a member of each of the Orioles’ World Series winning teams.
Mussina, whose career won-loss record and winning percentage are similar to Palmer’s but whose ERA is higher, is another easy choice.
Most of McNally’s success came before the designated hitter. Like Palmer, he pitched at Memorial Stadium, not Camden Yards. McNally was a 20-game winner from 1968-1971 and won 181 games with 33 shutouts.
Cuellar’s career stats are almost identical to McNally’s, and he won 143 games in eight seasons. He had three consecutive 20-win seasons, from 1969-71. Unlike McNally, who played only briefly with Montreal, Cuellar had 42 wins with Houston and St. Louis.
Flanagan, like McNally and Cuellar, was a left-hander, and he won 141 games in two stints with the Orioles. In 1979, Flanagan won 23 games as the Orioles came within one win of another World Series title. In 1991, Flanagan threw the last Orioles’ pitch in Memorial Stadium’s final game. He concluded his career as a reliever.
Like the other five starters, McGregor was a 20-game winner. In 1980, McGregor nearly pitched the Orioles into the postseason, but in the pre-Wild Card days, their 100 wins weren’t good enough. McGregor won the last Orioles’ World Series game in 1983. He won 138 games for the Orioles, the only major league team for which he played.
Pappas has been unfairly maligned over the years because he was the Oriole sent to Cincinnati along with pitcher Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson for Frank Robinson in December 1965. But Pappas won 110 games for the Orioles in a career that began in 1957. Overall, Pappas had 220 victories and had similar statistics to Hall of Famer Don Drysdale. Pappas had a 3.24 ERA as an Oriole, better than Flanagan, McGregor and Mussina, who pitched at hitter-friendly Camden Yards.
Also considered: Mike Boddicker, Steve Barber
Boddicker was the Orioles’ last 20-game winner in 1984 and was a key member of the World Series winners in 1983, but had only 79 wins for the Orioles. Although he’s remembered fondly by Oriole fans, he had three excellent seasons with Boston after he was traded there in July 1988 for Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling.
Barber had 95 wins from 1960-1967, and won 20 games in 1963, the first Orioles pitcher to do so.
Relievers: Zack Britton, Gregg Olson, Dick Hall
Britton had perhaps the best season of any reliever when he converted all 47 save opportunities in 2016. He allowed just four earned runs and had a 0.54 ERA.
Olson holds the team record with 160 saves in a six-year career. He gave up just 10 home runs in 350 innings. In 1989, he won the American League Rookie of the Year award, the last Oriole to do so.
Hall’s choice was the most difficult one, partly because I wasn’t around to see his career first-hand, but also because there were many other worthy relievers to consider. Hall pitched 770 innings in a nine-year Orioles career.
He was arguably the most versatile pitcher in team history. He started 22 games but finished 237. His WHIP of 1.005 was the best in Orioles history, and he had a 2.89 ERA. He walked just 1.5 batters per nine innings.
Also considered: Jim Johnson, Tippy Martinez, Darren O’Day, Eddie Watt, Pete Richert, Stu Miller
Johnson had 101 saves in 2012 and 2013, but Britton, Olson and Hall had stronger Oriole careers.
Martinez is remembered fondly for his 11 years with the Orioles, unusually long for a reliever, but his 3.46 ERA and 1.370 WHIP leave him short.
O’Day had a fantastic 2.40 ERA and 0.994 ERA, but he pitched roughly half the innings Hall did.
I never thought about Watt and Richert until readers brought them up.
From 1967-1972, Watt had an ERA of 2.27 or lower five times, but he’s handicapped by his time. In 1969, Watt had a 1.65 ERA and 16 saves but was used in 56 games. That year, Oriole starters threw 50 complete games, and the relievers weren’t as valuable as they are in the contemporary game.
It’s a similar story with Richert, who had a 2.83 ERA in five years with the Orioles. He wasn’t with the team long enough or used often enough to make the list.
Miller had 99 saves and a 2.37 ERA in five seasons from 1963-1967, but the others were more dominant.
Tomorrow: We’ll reveal the 16 position players.