Manager: Earl Weaver Home: Camden Yards
Leading off for the Orioles.. the Second Baseman.. Brian Roberts
Brian Roberts was one of the fastest players in the long history of the Orioles. A two-time All-Star, Roberts compiled three seasons of 50 doubles or more, and his 50 stolen bases led the American League in 2007. He's third on the O's all-time stolen base list, eighth in runs scored, and his 80.1% steal success rate is higher than any full-time player in team history. Roberts played over 1,400 regular season games but did not participate in a single postseason contest.
Batting second for Baltimore.. the First Baseman.. George Sisler
One of the greatest pure hitters in baseball history, George Sisler batted above .400 twice, and led the majors both times. His career .340 average is tied with Lou Gehrig for 16th all-time. Sisler holds franchise records for triples (145) and stolen bases (351), which would make him an ideal #1 or #2 hitter. George was awarded AL MVP honors in 1922, after leading the Browns to within one game of the Yankees for the pennant.
Batting third.. the Left Fielder.. Ken Williams
Back-to-back Browns in the top of the order is a bit surprising considering the lack of team success in St. Louis, though Ken Williams is well-deserving of a starting spot. In ten seasons with the Browns, Williams posted a slash line of .326/.403/.558. His career On-base, slugging, and OPS averages are first or second in team history. Ken Williams led the AL in home runs, RBI, and total bases in 1922 - the only non-Yankee to do so while Babe Ruth was in his prime.
Batting fourth.. the Designated Hitter.. Eddie Murray
Eddie Murray won three Gold Gloves at first base, but his 573 games at DH is why I have him here. One of only six players in history to collect 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, "Steady Eddie" was a tough out from either side of the plate. He's 11th all-time in runs batted in and total bases, and played more regular-season games than all but five players. Murray played in a World Series in three different decades (1979, 1983, and 1995) and hit at least one home run in each Fall Classic.
Batting fifth.. the Shortstop.. Cal Ripken Jr.
Some of these roster decisions were difficult. Others were so obvious I didn't even bother to look at the stats. When I got to the Orioles' shortstop slot I entered Cal Ripken's name and moved on. The Iron Man played 3,001 games (8th all-time, appropriately enough) and his consecutive games streak is legendary. Ripken was a 19-time All-Star, a two-time AL MVP, and is in the top three all-time in WAR, hits, home runs, and RBI among players whose primary position was shortstop.
Batting sixth.. the Right Fielder.. Ken Singleton
Currently a Yankees announcer, Ken Singleton collected over 2,000 hits and 1,000 RBI in a sterling 15-year career. A three-time All-Star for the Baltimore Orioles from 1977-1981, Singleton finished in the top three in AL MVP voting in two of those All-Star seasons - 1977(3rd) and 1979(2nd). His home run total and oWAR as an Oriole rank just ahead of Frank Robinson. [Spoiler alert: Robinson will be starting for Cincinnati.]
Batting seventh.. the Third Baseman.. Brooks Robinson
There may have been better hitters who played third base for this franchise, but no one played third base better than Brooks Robinson. The "Human Vacuum Cleaner" was a legendary defender, especially in the 1970 World Series in which he was named MVP. The 18-time All-Star and 16-time Gold Glove winner was also the 1964 AL MVP and finished in the top three in three other seasons. Brooks was no slouch at the plate, posting six 20-home run seasons and over 2,800 career hits.
Batting eighth.. the Catcher.. Chris Hoiles
The weakest position for this storied franchise, Chris Hoiles was slightly better offensively than the more decorated catchers I considered. Hoiles was never an All-Star but he slashed a respectable .262/.366/.467 over a ten-year career and hit 151 home runs in just 894 games. Gus Triandos was a four-time All-Star with similar numbers. However Hoiles rates higher in WAR and OPS+ and his career slash line is superior to Triandos' .249/.326/.424 as an Oriole.
Batting ninth.. the Center Fielder.. Paul Blair
With defensive stalwarts like Brooks Robinson, Mark Belanger, and Paul Blair, Baltimore may have been one of the best run-prevention teams of all-time. Blair gets the nod over a more offensive-minded center fielder thanks to eight Gold Gloves and four World Series rings (two with the O's). A two-time All-Star, Blair was an average hitter throughout his career - though he had standout seasons in 1967 and 1969.
The Starting Pitcher for the Orioles.. Jim Palmer
The franchise leader in games pitched, games started, wins, strikeouts, and several other categories, Jim Palmer won three Cy Young awards in a four-year span (1973-'76). A World Series winner in three different decades, Palmer was outstanding in the 1966 series. Making his postseason debut at age 20, Palmer shut out Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers 6-0 in Game 2. The first-ballot Hall of Famer is currently a color commentator for the Orioles.
Now let's look at the Orioles' bench and bullpen:
Catcher: Rick Dempsey
1st Base: Boog Powell
Infielder: Manny Machado
Outfield: Adam Jones
Outfield: Brady Anderson
Dempsey's defense gives him the nod over Triandos as the backup catcher (I try to pick an offensive catcher and a defensive catcher whenever possible.) Jones just missed a starting spot for the same reason, and Manny Machado's brief Baltimore tenure was too good to ignore.
#2 starter: Mike Mussina
#3 starter: Dave McNally
#4 starter: Urban Shocker
#5 starter: Mike Cuellar
No shocker here - Mussina pitched ten years for the O's and ranks second in franchise history in wins, strikeouts, and K-BB ratio. McNally and Cuellar were workhorses for Baltimore; McNally allowed the only two runs O's pitchers surrendered in the 1966 World Series. Urban Shocker won 20+ games in four straight seasons for the Browns (1920-'23.)
RH reliever: Eddie Watt
RH reliever: Stu Miller
RH reliever: Dick Hall
RH reliever: Jim Johnson
LH reliever: Zack Britton
RH reliever: Gregg Olson
Left-hander Tippy Martinez just missed the cut, so Zack Britton (formerly known as Zach) will be the only southpaw in the 'pen. I enjoyed finding quality pre-1969* relievers such as Hall and Miller - who also qualified as a Giant but was better in Baltimore.
*when the save became an official stat
Come back tomorrow for our next All-Time Team, the Boston Red Sox.
Thanks for reading!