Assembling the Baltimore Orioles All-Time Dream Team
If you could bring a franchise's players from any era together, how would you assemble the potential dream team? For the Baltimore Orioles, there are several players who are among some of the all-time greats in MLB history. In addition to the greats of the game, some players enjoyed the success of a magical season or two, but cemented themselves as an Orioles legend.
With only a handful of positions to fill, here is a look at the Orioles who could make Baltimore's all-time dream team.
Starting Pitcher: Jim Palmer (1965-1984)
Stats with Orioles: 268-152, 2.86 ERA
No starting pitcher in Orioles history has been better than Jim Palmer. Palmer pitched for the Orioles from 1965 to 1984, spending his entire career in Charm City.
While playing for the Orioles, Palmer was a six-time All-Star and won three Cy Young awards during his career. Palmer helped pitch the Orioles to six World Series appearances and led them to three championships.
No pitcher in Baltimore history has more wins than Palmer (268), shutouts (53) or innings pitched (3,948). As a matter of fact, no Orioles pitcher aside from Palmer has ever even eclipsed 3,000 innings pitched while with the team.
Who better to have as your dream team Opening Day starter than the best pitcher in franchise history? Jim Palmer wins this arms race without much opposition.
First Base: Eddie Murray (1977-1988, 1996)
Stats with Orioles: .294, 394 home runs, 1,224 RBI
Eddie Murray gave the Orioles a solid bat, and glove at first base during his first 12 years with the Birds. Murray won the 1997 Rookie of the Year award, hitting .283 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI.
Murray would go on to make seven all-star game appearances, and win three straight Gold Gloves (1982, 1983, 1984) with the Orioles. Murray was the ultimate hitter for Baltimore.
During his first tenure with the team, Murray hit over .300 in five of those 12 seasons. Even when he wasn't at his best, Murray's worst average with the Orioles was still a respectable .277 in 1987.
Murray won one World Series with the Orioles in 1983. During that season Murray posted 33 home runs—a career high—and 111 RBIs, the second highest total for him in a single season.
Murray never won an MVP award with the Orioles, but don't think he wasn't one of the top players in the league during the 1980s. Murray finished in the top five or better in the MVP race from 1981 to 1985.
Second Base: Brian Roberts (2001-Present)
Stats with Orioles: .280, 84 home runs, 483 RBI
Brian Roberts has the privilege of being one of the current players on Baltimore's 2013 roster to make this list. When healthy, Roberts has posted solid numbers for the Orioles throughout his career when healthy.
While his post season accolades and all-star game appearances may be lacking, there is no doubting Robert's value to the Orioles. Twice Roberts has led the American League in doubles, hitting 50 in 2004 and 56 in 2009, which led all major leaguers.
Roberts has also proven his value on the basepaths, stealing 276 bases in his career with the Orioles. Roberts was also tied for most stolen bases by an American League player in 2007, swiping 50 bags that year.
Roberts has always had a decent glove on defense, and has been in relatively good health prior to 2010. No second baseman in Orioles' history has been with Baltimore longer than Roberts. Given his solid career numbers, and tenure with with the Birds, Roberts fits nicely on this dream team.
Shortstop: Cal Ripken Jr. (1981-2001)
Stats with Orioles: .276, 431 home runs, 1,695 RBI
Attend a game at Camden Yards on any day of the MLB season and you'll likely see more Cal Ripken jerseys than any other player. Ripken set the bar high for what it means to be a Baltimore Oriole by today's standards.
Ripken had a career that spanned 21 years, all with the Orioles. During this time he made 19 all-star appearances, all consecutive from 1983 to 2001. Ripken was the 1981 Rookie of the Year, hitting .264 with 28 home runs and 93 RBI. He would also finish his career with two MVP awards, (1983, 1991) two Gold Glove awards (1991,1992) and eight Silver Slugger awards.
Ripken's most notable achievement may be his, "Iron Man" record, where he appeared in 2,632 consecutive games from 1982 to 1998. The Iron Man's record stands among one of the most unbreakable records in sports history.
Look all you want, but you will not find a more fitting player to lead the Orioles' dream team than Ripken.
Third Baseman: Brooks Robinson (1955-1977)
Stats with Orioles: .267, 268 home runs, 1,357 RBI
Brooks Robinson stands among the all-time greats at third base. No player in MLB history has won more Gold Gloves than Robinson (16). Like many players at the top of this list, Robinson was another lifetime Oriole.
Robinson's ability at the plate was relatively inconsistent. Twice in his career he hit better than .300, and only hit higher than .290 twice as well. Robinson never posted higher than a .368 on-base percentage, which he did in 1964. That year Robinson won the MVP award, posting career highs in hits (194), home runs (28), RBI (118), and batting average (.317).
Robinson made 15 all-star games during his career, and is second in franchise history in games played (2,896). Aside from Ripken and Robinson, no other Orioles' player has even reached 2,000 games played.
Regardless of which team he played for Robinson definitely be the favorites for a dream team roster, the Orioles are just fortunate he is playing for theirs.
Catcher: Chris Hoiles (1989-1998)
Stats with Orioles: .262, 151 home runs, 449 RBI
The Orioles have struggled to find a productive catcher to consistently place in their lineup, but Chris Hoiles held that spot from 1991 to 1998. No, Hoiles never won a Gold Glove and was never named to an All-Star game, although you could certainly argue that he should have been.
Hoiles' 151 career home runs is the most home runs by an Orioles catcher, and he is fourth among Orioles catchers in games played (894). If Hoiles was ever deserving of an all-star game, it would have been in 1993. That season Hoiles hit .310 for the Birds, hitting 29 homers and driving in 82 RBI.
Hoiles was on of the top home run hitting catchers during his time with the Orioles. From 1992 to 1996 Hoiles finished every season in the top five for most home runs by a catcher. Current catcher Matt Wieters may find himself taking Hoiles' spot on this list a few years from now.
That being said, with his overall success as an Oriole, Hoiles will be calling the games for the dream team behind the plate.
Left Field: Boog Powell (1961-1974)
Stats with Orioles: .266, 303 home runs, 1,063 RBI
Boog Powell closed out his career with the Orioles as a first baseman. However, his start in the outfield is reason enough to put the former slugger on this list.
Powell was a four-time All-star with the Orioles, and won the MVP award in 1970. That season Powell hit .297, hitting a career high 37 home runs and driving in 121 RBI, also a career high.
He never flashed enough leather in the outfield to be worthy of a Gold Glove award, but Powell's bat is certainly worthy of a nod on this list.
Center Field: Brady Anderson (1988-2001)
Stats with Orioles: .257, 209 home runs, 744 RBI
Brady Anderson saw time all over the outfield during his career with the Orioles. Because of his great versatility and speed, Anderson will man center field for this group of players.
Anderson was a three-time All-Star with the Orioles, and was a constant threat on the basepaths. Anderson stole 307 bases for the Orioles, including a career high 53 in 1992. Anderson also holds the Orioles' single-season record for most home runs in a season (50).
During his record setting season in 1996, in addition to his home run total, Anderson hit .297 for the Orioles and drove in 110 RBI. Anderson also holds the unique record for being the most hit batter in Orioles' history, getting hit by 148 pitches in his career.
If Anderson could produce at the level he did in 1996, he would make for one of the best hitters on this team.
Right Field: Frank Robinson (1966-1971)
Stats with Orioles: .300, 179 home runs, 545 RBI
The Orioles made a trade for outfielder Frank Robinson in 1965, which may be one of the most one-sided trades in MLB history. Robinson played only six seasons for the Orioles, but left a lasting impression on the town of Baltimore.
Robinson won the MVP in 1966, his first year with the Orioles. That season Robinson hit .316, with 49 homers and drove in 122 RBI. That year the Orioles also won the World Series, their first championship in franchise history. Four years later the Orioles would win the World Series again.
The Orioles made it to the World Series a total of four times during Robinson's six years with the team. Prior to Robinson's arrival in Baltimore, the Orioles had only appeared in one World Series.
Robinson made the all-star game five times as an Oriole, and also managed the team from 1988 to 1991. Robinson turned in one solid season after another to be considered one of the best players to ever put on an Orioles uniform.
Designated Hitter: Rafael Palmeiro (1994-1998, 2004-2005)
Stats with Orioles: .284, 223 home runs, 701 RBI
With a free spot in the lineup to fill with any hitter, Rafael Palmeiro will serve as the designated hitter on this team.
Palmeiro had two stints with the Orioles, and posted MVP caliber numbers almost every season. From 1994 to 1998 Palmeiro hit 38 or more home runs in four of his first five seasons with the team. Palmeiro also drove in over 100 RBIs in four of this five seasons, and posted a .292 average during that period.
Palmeiro made one all-star game appearance with the Orioles, and won a Gold Glove in 1997 and 1998. While his second stint with the Orioles wasn't as solid as his first one, Palmeiro still posted respectable numbers in 2004 and 2005.
Of any former player not on this list, Palmeiro would be my favorite to fill the lineup at designated hitter.
Closer: Jim Johnson (2006-Present)
Stats with Orioles: 3.04 ERA, 80 saves
Jim Johnson is another current Oriole who makes this dream team roster. Last season Johnson broke Baltimore's single-season record for saves, recording 51 in 2012. As it currently stands, Johnson is fifth all-time in Orioles history for saves.
The most saves in franchise history is held by Gregg Olson, who saved 160 games for the Orioles during his time with Baltimore. At the rate Johnson is going right now, he could be on pace to break the franchise record in another year or two. If Baltimore can secure Johnson for the long-term future, he could go down as the best closer in franchise history.
Johnson is certainly a viable option out of the bullpen to close for Baltimore's dream team roster.