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Greatest O's: Top 50

So far I've named my top 40 Orioles of all time by taking the top three players at each infield position and catcher, nine outfielders, one designated hitter, and fifteen pitchers. Perspicacious readers will have noticed, though, that Cal Ripken was selected to the top three at both shortstop and third base, so the resultant list of finalists actually had 39 unique members. No matter; this just means that I will have to select eleven more players, not ten, to fill out the top 50. So without further ado (without any ado at all, really), here are those top 39 hits as well as my eleven at-large selections (noted with asterisks) to round out the top 50:

Catchers (3):

  1. Rick Dempsey
  2. Chris Hoiles
  3. Gus Triandos

First basemen (4):

  1. Eddie Murray
  2. Boog Powell
  3. Rafael Palmeiro
  4. Jim Gentile*

Second basemen (4):

  1. Bobby Grich
  2. Davey Johnson
  3. Roberto Alomar
  4. Rich Dauer*

Third basemen (2, plus Ripken):

  1. Brooks Robinson
  2. Doug DeCinces

Shortstops (4):

  1. Cal Ripken Jr.
  2. Mark Belanger
  3. Mike Bordick
  4. Luis Aparicio

Outfielders (12):

  1. Ken Singleton
  2. Brady Anderson
  3. Frank Robinson
  4. Paul Blair
  5. Al Bumbry
  6. Don Buford
  7. B.J. Surhoff
  8. Merv Rettenmund
  9. Gary Roenicke
  10. Jackie Brandt*
  11. Curt Blefary*
  12. Bob Nieman*

Designated hitter (1):

Harold Baines

Pitchers (20):

  1. Jim Palmer
  2. Mike Mussina
  3. Dave McNally
  4. Mike Flanagan
  5. Scott McGregor
  6. Mike Cuéllar
  7. Milt Pappas
  8. Mike Boddicker
  9. Steve Barber
  10. Tippy Martínez
  11. Stu Miller
  12. Dennis Martínez
  13. Dick Hall
  14. Gregg Olson
  15. Scott Erickson
  16. Hoyt Wilhelm*
  17. Sammy Stewart*
  18. Ben McDonald*
  19. Storm Davis*
  20. Eddie Watt*

The eleven players added after the top 39 were first baseman Jim Gentile; second baseman Rich Dauer; shortstop Luis Aparicio; outfielders Jackie Brandt, Curt Blefary, and Bob Nieman; and pitchers Hoyt Wilhelm, Sammy Stewart, Ben McDonald, Storm Davis, and Eddie Watt.

The shallowest position on the team is third base, where I opted to not expand the list beyond Brooks Robinson and Doug DeCinces. In real life, it would be hard to field a team of 50 (essentially a regular 25-man roster doubled) with just two third basemen, but the runners-up (excepting Ripken) did not contribute nearly enough to make the cut.

The same situation applied to designated hitter. Ken Singleton, Tommy Davis, and Lee May were the next logical choices after Harold Baines, but Singleton already made the team as an outfielder, and the production of Davis and May was not outstanding enough to beat out other players who contributed both with the bat and in the field.

Near misses

The toughest players to omit from the top 50 were those who played at a very high level with the Orioles, but did not stick with the team long enough to surpass other Birds who were less spectacular but served longer. Some shooting stars that fit this description were catcher Mickey Tettleton, first baseman Randy Milligan, and outfielders Gene Woodling, John Lowenstein, and Don Baylor.

The player with the most career value as an Oriole who missed the top 50 was Mike Devereaux, who accumulated 76 Win Shares and 26 WARP-3 over seven respectable seasons for the club. Not only did Devereaux's Win Shares and WARP-3 totals lead all players not on the top 50 team, but they also exceeded the contributions of several players who made the cut. However, I elected to go instead with another outfielder, Bob Nieman. Nieman's 71 Win Shares and 24 WARP-3 as an Oriole trailed Devereaux, but Nieman was a far more dangerous player in his four seasons with the team, averaging 26.7 Win Shares per 162 games compared to Devereaux's 14.3. Had Nieman not been there, Devereaux still would have faced stiff competition from Lowenstein and Baylor and to a lesser extent Woodling.

The best-qualified pitcher not to make the squad was Hal Brown. Brown steadily tallied 72 Win Shares and 22 WARP-3 for the Orioles, but was edged off the team by Wilhelm (68 WS, 28 WARP-3), Stewart (68, 27), McDonald (59, 30), Davis (65, 24), and Watt (63, 24). Going with Davis instead of Brown was probably the closest call out of all the border cases.

After I fill in some of the position articles, I'll attempt to do a ranking of the top Orioles of 1954-2003.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 25, 2004 7:55 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Greatest O's: Pitchers.

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