With pitching rotations that featured aces like Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, and Pat Dobson (shown above), the Baltimore Orioles were baseball’s winningest team from 1958 to 1987. During that stretch of 30 seasons, the O’s won at least 90 games 17 times on their way to six pennants. Prior to 1954 they were the St. Louis Browns, and there are three former Browns in the starting lineup and one in the rotation.
Chris Hoiles – C
The other choices are Gus Triandos, Rick Dempsey, Elrod Hendricks, and Andy Etchebarren. Hoiles averaged 27 homers per 162 games in his 10-year career spent entirely with Baltimore. The problem is that he only played as many as 120 games twice. Still, he’s the best offensive catcher the franchise has ever had.
George Sisler – 1B
Imagine if Ichiro Suzuki played first base like Keith Hernandez. That was George Sisler, one of the best pure hitters the game has ever known. Can you imagine the endorsement deals the career .340 hitter could have had with Sizzler Restaurants? His career ended a few years premature due to vision problems caused by a sinus infection. He and Frank Robinson are the only players in franchise history to win a batting title.
Brian Roberts – 2B
Not a great second baseman, but pretty good for a few years, and that’s about as good as it gets for the O’s and Browns at this position. Roberts is a steroids guy (he was implicated by several sources), but he never hit a lot of homers, he hit a bunch of doubles. Three times he topped 50 doubles for the Birds.
Brooks Robinson – 3B
This is a no-brainer: Robinson was the greatest defensive third baseman in baseball for most of his 23-year career, which was spent entirely with the Orioles. He won 16 Gold Gloves and was the AL MVP in 1964. In the 1970 World Series he almost single-handedly defeated the Reds, batting .429 and making several diving plays at the hot corner.
Cal Ripken Jr. – SS
The fourth member of the infield to have played his entire career with the franchise, Ripken is an easy choice at this position for this team. He was more than just a streak, and it’s almost unfortunate that The Streak has somewhat overshadowed how good he was at his peak.
Eddie Murray – DH
One of the men who helped Ripken become a winner at the big league level, Murray (like Sisler, Robinson, and Ripken) is a member of the Hall of Fame. His 343 homers as an Oriole rank only behind Ripken in franchise history. He’s fourth behind Ripken, Robinson, and Sisler in hits for the franchise.
Ken Williams – LF
How good was Williams? His slugging percentage of .558 ranks first in franchise history, and his OBP is also first among batters who made at least 2,500 plate appearances for the Browns/O’s. He was the Browns left fielder for eight seasons from 1920-1927, slugging 185 homers. In 1922 he hit 39 homers and stole 37 bases to nearly become baseball’s first 40/40 man decades before Jose Canseco. A career .319 hitter, Williams gives this lineup a powerful left-handed bat.
Baby Doll Jacobson – CF
Playing to the left of Williams in center field for nine seasons, Jacobson was a line drive hitter who had a .311 career batting average. Usually hitting directly behind Sisler and Williams, Baby Doll usually had lots of chances to drive in runs. He topped 90 RBI five times in his 11-year career.
Ken Singleton – RF
Normally we’d have Kenny at DH, but we want to get both Sisler and Murray into the lineup. Singleton was a switch-hitter with power and a great batting eye. He hit 20 homers five times, drove in 100 runs three times, and received 100 walks four times. He was a favorite of manager Earl Weaver. Not a great defensive player, but he did play more than 1,500 games in the outfield, most of them in right field.
Jim Palmer – SP
The unquestioned ace of this staff, Palmer was a great pitcher for almost two decades. He leads franchise hurlers in wins, strikeouts, innings, games pitched, and shutouts. He’s the only pitcher to have spent most of his career with the Orioles to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Mike Mussina – SP
Someday, Mussina might join Palmer in the Hall of Fame. The Moose was a similar pitcher, with a little better fastball. He won 147 games for Baltimore and 123 more for the Yankees. He reached the 15-win mark 11 times in his 18 seasons and was one of the best post-season pitchers of his era.
Mike Flanagan – SP
There are many pitchers in the storied history of the Baltimore Orioles who could get a spot in this rotation, but Flanagan’s long tenure and efficiency earn him the nod. He won the 1979 Cy Young Award and was a key part of two Orioles teams that won the pennant. His 141 wins rank 5th in franchise history. A good case could also be made for Dave McNally.
Urban Shocker – SP
No Browns’ pitcher ever won more games than Shocker, who wore the St. Louis uniform from 1918-1924, the most successful period of that team’s history. The spitballer won 20 games four times for the Browns, and in 1922 he led the league in strikeouts.
Mike Cuellar – SP
Our second lefty in the rotation, Cuellar had a masterful curveball that he used to win 143 games for Baltimore and 185 overall. The Cuban won 20 games four times for Weaver’s Orioles, helping the club to the post-season five times in his eight seasons wearing the orange and black.
Gregg Olson – RP
He pitched for nine teams in his 14-year career, but his best seasons came in his six years as an Oriole. The 22-year old was the Rookie of the Year in 1989 when he saved 27 games and had a 1.69 ERA. He’s the all-time franchise leader in saves.
Dick Hall – RP
The towering (6’6) right-hander was a valuable reliever for the Orioles in the 1960s, culminating in the World Series title in 1966. Hall didn’t always close out games, he was a fireman, coming in when the game was on the line and teaming with Stu Miller to form an excellent bullpen duo. Miller could have easily made this team, too.
Scott McGregor – RP
A left-handed starter with good off-speed stuff, McGregor won 138 games in his 13-year career spent entirely with the Orioles. He had excellent control and can serve as a specialist here against left-handed batters.
Eddie Watt – RP
After Stu Miller and Dick Hall gave way in the late 1960s, Watt became the Orioles ace out of the bullpen. the rughty was stingy at giving up hits and runs – he had a career 2.91 ERA and went as low as 1.65 in ’69.
Tippy Martinez – RP
The Yankees dealt Martinez to the Orioles in 1976 along with Rick Dempsey and Scot McGregor. Do you think they regretted that trade? Martinez was a solif lefty out of the Baltimore pen for a decade, saving more than 100 games. He rarely gave up the longball – allowing one every 15 2/3 innings over his career. He was part of two O’s teams that won the pennant.
Ned Garver – RP
Garver is one of only seven pitchers to win 20 games for a last place team (the ’51 Browns), and he’s only one to do it while also hitting over .300 that season.
Dennis Martinez – RP
On many other All-Time Teams, Martinez would get a starting spot in the rotation, but the competition is fierce here. “El Presidente” won 108 games for the Orioles, and even though his best seasons came with the Montreal Expos, the native of Nicaragua pitched more games for Baltimore. He won 245 games in his career, and he tossed a prefect game for Montreal.
Gus Triandos – C
Probably nearly as good a hitter as Hoiles, and you could start either behind the plate here on this team and get about the same thing. Triandos clubbed 167 homers in his 13 seasons, including 30 in 1958 for Baltimore. Triandos had a great throwing arm and he gunned down enemy runners at a 45% clip for his career.
Boog Powell – 1B/LF
Probably the most popular player in Orioles history, with the possible exception of Cal Ripken. Powell can fill in at first, DH, and left field, providing his powerful LH bat. Only four men played more games for the Orioles than Boog, and he;s one of only three batters in franchise history to hit 300 homers (Ripken & Murray are the others).
Davey Johnson – 2B
A really good baseball player, Johnson probably deserves to split half the starts on this team with Roberts. He was an excellent defensive player and he could hit for power too.
Vern Stephens – SS/3B
There are many reasons why Stephens should be in the Hall of Fame, but he’ll probably never get in. He was one of the greatest offensive shortstops in baseball history, way ahead of his time as a slugger at the position. He wasn’t a bad fielder either.
Harlond Clift – 3B
Clift played on just one winning team in his decade with the St. Louis Browns (1934-1943), but he was one of the better third baseman in the game. the right-handed batter had punch (34 and 29 homers in his best seasons), drove in runs (118 in back-to-back years for the Browns), and got on base (100 walks six times).
Paul Blair – CF
This team needs some speed, and Blair helps to provide it. He was also one of the best defensive center fielders in history, winning eight Gold Gloves at that position for the Orioles. He played on six pennant-winning teams and won four World Series rings, two each with Baltimore and the Yankees.
Brady Anderson – CF
No man played more games in the outfield for the Browns/O’s franchise than Anderson. The slender leadoff hitter suddenly and shockingly became a slugger in 1996 when he hit 50 home runs – 29 more than he had ever hit in a season before. Eyebrows raised, but there was no denying Anderson’s production. In 1992 he became the first player in AL history to hit 20 homers, drive in 75 runs, and steal 50 bases in a season. He is the only player to ever hit 50 homers and steal 50 bases at any time during his career.
Earl Weaver – MGR
No other man deserves to manage this team other than The Earl of Baltimore. Weaver was a unique character who drove his teams to the top of the standings year after year. In his 16 full seasons at the helm of the O’s, his team finished first or second 13 times. He won four pennants and one World Series championship (1970). Not interested in being friends with his players, Weaver filled out his lineup card and relied on a philosophy of three-run homers, great defense and great pitching to finish in first place six times and win 90 or more games an incredible 11 times. Not just the greatest manager in franchise history, Weaver is one of the best of all-time.