The 9 greatest players in Baltimore Orioles history
When the Baltimore Orioles used the No. 3 overall pick on Manny Machado in the 2010 MLB Draft, they struck gold on one of the most exciting players in franchise history.
Machado -- a natural shortstop -- moved to third base to accommodate one of the great defensive shortstops of his era in J.J. Hardy. Together, the two formed one of the surest-handed left sides of an infield in MLB history.
Between 2012 and 2017, the six full seasons that he spent with the Orioles, Machado won two Gold Glove Awards and the Platinum Glove as the American League's best overall defender in 2013.
Even that list of accomplishments doesn't do justice to how dominant of a third baseman Machado was early in his career, as he posted 81 defensive runs saved in his first six seasons. Only Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies -- considered to be one of the best defenders in league history -- had more defensive runs saved among third basemen during that period, as he had 82.
Machado was hardly a slouch with the bat either, as he slashed .279/.329/.476 with 138 home runs, 406 RBIs and an .805 OPS in his first six seasons. As an elite defensive third baseman for the Orioles with an All-Star-caliber bat, Machado felt in many ways like the second coming of Brooks Robinson.
The difference is that free agency didn't exist until Robinson was in the waning days of his playing career. Machado and then-Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper knew they were going to headline the most anticipated free-agent class in MLB history ahead of their age-26 seasons pretty early on in their careers.
And so did the Orioles.
Even while Machado was in the process of becoming one of the best players in the history of the franchise, the Orioles were not willing to approach the 10-year/$300 million deal that their star infielder would ultimately land after the 2018 season. Rather than seeing him depart in free agency, the Orioles traded Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July of 2018, ending the chances of him becoming an inner-circle player in Orioles history like he once seemed destined to be.
If Machado ever becomes a Hall of Famer -- and he's going to have a very real shot once his career concludes -- it's possible that we'll remember that his peak (especially defensively) came in Baltimore. However, he spent six-and-a-half seasons with the Orioles, and if he plays out his current contract with the San Diego Padres, he'll have spent a decade there. That means that Machado could very well be wearing a Padres cap in Cooperstown one day.
While we ponder what could have been, here's a look at the nine greatest players in the history of the Baltimore Orioles, with players from the franchise's time as the St. Louis Browns not considered:
9. Brady Anderson (1989-2001)
Best Season as an Oriole: 1996 - .297/.396/.637 with 50 home runs, 110 RBIs, 76 walks, 1.034 OPS, 156 OPS+ and a 6.9 fWAR
Career Stats as an Oriole: .257/.364/.430 with 209 home runs, 744 RBIs, 927 walks, 1,614 hits, .794 OPS, 110 OPS+ and 33.0 fWAR
Anderson's 1996 season was such an outlier -- he hit 50 home runs that year, and never more than 24 in another season -- that it caused speculation that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. However, for all the stars in the 1990s that were credibly linked to PEDs, no such link exists for Anderson. And while he never matched his power output from 1996, Anderson made three All-Star teams in parts of 14 excellent seasons with the Orioles. Among all players in the history of the Orioles, Anderson is the franchise leader with 307 stolen bases.
8. Bobby Grich (1970-1976)
Best Season as an Oriole: 1974 - .263/.376/.431 with 19 home runs, 82 RBIs, 90 walks, .807 OPS, 135 OPS+ and a 6.8 fWAR
Career Stats as an Oriole: .262/.372/.405 with 70 home runs, 307 RBIs, 457 walks, 730 hits, .777 OPS, 127 OPS+ and 33.4 fWAR
Grich spent 10 years -- the largest chunk of his career -- with the California Angels, and checked in at No. 8 on our countdown of the greatest Halos players ever. Grich's first seven seasons, though, came in Baltimore, and he produced at a high enough level to also earn the No. 8 spot for the Orioles. As an Oriole, Grich made three All-Star teams and won three Gold Glove Awards. Between 1973 and 1975, Grich had arguably the best three-season stretch of his career, posting a 21.4 fWAR. Over that period, the only position player in baseball who had a higher fWAR was Hall of Famer Joe Morgan.
7. Boog Powell (1961-1974)
Best Season as an Oriole: 1969 - .304/.383/.559 with 37 home runs, 121 RBIs, 72 walks, .942 OPS, 160 OPS+ and a 6.4 fWAR
Career Stats as an Oriole: .266/.362/.465 with 303 home runs, 1,063 RBIs, 889 walks, 1,574 hits, .826 OPS, 135 OPS+ and 40.1 fWAR
Powell made four consecutive All-Star teams between 1968 and 1971. But while he won the American League MVP Award in 1970, his most complete season came in 1966. Powell homered 34 times and finished third in American League MVP voting in 1966, before helping the Orioles to sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. It was the first of two World Series that Powell would win during his 14 years with the Orioles. Nearly 50 years after he last played for the Orioles, Powell remains third in franchise history with 303 home runs.
6. Mike Mussina (1991-2000)
Best Season as an Oriole: 1999 - 18-7 with a 3.50 ERA, 133 ERA+, 3.25 FIP, 1.274 WHIP, 172 strikeouts, four complete games and 6.0 fWAR
Career Stats as an Oriole: 147-81 with a 3.53 ERA, 130 ERA+, 3.63 FIP, 1.175 WHIP, 1,535 strikeouts, 45 complete games and 46.7 fWAR
Mussina never won an American League Cy Young Award, but he was an excellent pitcher for 18 major league seasons, which is why he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2019. His first 10 seasons came with the Orioles, where he won 147 games, made five All-Star teams and won four Gold Glove Awards. "Moose" was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2019, though his plaque features a blank cap because he also spent eight years with the division-rival New York Yankees.
5. Eddie Murray (1977-1988; 1996)
Best Season as an Oriole: 1983 - .306/.393/.538 with 33 home runs, 111 RBIs, 86 walks, .930 OPS, 156 OPS+ and 6.8 fWAR
Career Stats as an Oriole: .294/.370/.498 with 343 home runs, 1,224 RBIs, 884 walks, 2,080 hits, .868 OPS, 139 OPS+ and 56.4 fWAR
Murray spent 13 seasons in Baltimore, and while he never won an American League MVP Award, he was the 1977 AL Rookie of the Year and he finished in the top five in AL MVP Award on five occasions. In his second stint with the team, Murray hit his 500th home run on Sept. 6, 1996. Murray had his No. 33 retired by the Orioles in 1998, and went into the Hall of Fame as an Oriole in 2003.
4. Frank Robinson (1966-1971)
Best Season as an Oriole: 1966 - .316/.410/.637 with 49 home runs, 122 RBIs, 87 walks, 1.047 OPS, 198 OPS+ and 8.2 fWAR
Career Stats as an Oriole: .300/.401/.543 with 179 home runs, 545 RBIs, 460 walks, 882 hits, .944 OPS, 169 OPS+ and 33.5 fWAR
Robinson spent less than a third of his Hall of Fame career with the Orioles, but put up staggering production during his six seasons with the team. Robinson won the American League MVP in 1966 -- his first season with the Orioles -- becoming the first (and to this point, only) player to win MVP Awards in both leagues. Despite spending a larger chunk (10 years) of his career with the Cincinnati Reds, Robinson went into the Hall of Fame with an Orioles cap in 1982. His No. 20 had been retired by the Orioles a decade earlier.
3. Jim Palmer (1965-1967; 1969-1984)
Best Season as an Oriole: 1975 - 23-11 with a 2.09 ERA, 169 ERA+, 2.96 FIP, 1.031 WHIP, 193 strikeouts, 25 complete games and a 6.9 fWAR
Career Stats as an Oriole: 268-152 with a 2.86 ERA, 125 ERA+, 3.50 FIP, 1.180 WHIP, 2,212 strikeouts, 211 complete games and 56.6 fWAR
Palmer spent all 19 season of his Hall of Fame career with the Orioles, finishing in the top five in American League Cy Young Award voting on eight occasions, and winning it three times. Palmer is the Orioles all-time leader in wins (268), strikeouts (2,212), complete games (211), complete-game shutouts (53) and fWAR (56.6). The Orioles retired Palmer's No. 22 in 1985.
2. Brooks Robinson (1955-1977)
Best Season as an Oriole: 1964 - .317/.368/.521 with 28 home runs, 118 RBIs, 51 walks, .889 OPS, 145 OPS+ and an 8.1 fWAR
Career Stats as an Oriole: .267/.322/.401 with 268 home runs, 1,357 RBIs, 860 walks, 2,848 hits, .723 OPS, 105 OPS+ and 80.2 fWAR
We rated Robinson as the No. 5 third baseman in MLB history, in large part because he's one of the greatest defenders that the sport has ever seen. With 16 Gold Glove Awards, Robinson has the most among any position player ever. He was also an 18-time All-Star and racked up 2,848 hits during a 23-year career spent exclusively with the Orioles. The Orioles retired Robinson's No. 5 in 1977.
1. Cal Ripken Jr. (1981-2001)
Best Season as an Oriole: 1991 - .323/.374/.566 with 34 home runs, 114 RBIs, 53 walks, .940 OPS, 162 OPS+ and a 10.6 fWAR
Career Stats as an Oriole: .276/.340/.447 with 431 home runs, 1,695 RBIs, 1,129 walks, .788 OPS, 112 OPS+ and 92.5 fWAR
Ripken is one of the greatest mixes in MLB history of a player who had both an incredible peak, and unfathomable longevity. He, of course, owns the MLB record for most consecutive games played a 2,632. But Ripken -- who spent his entire 21-year career with the Orioles -- was the 1982 American League Rookie of the Year Award, a two-time AL MVP, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner, an eight-time Silver Slugger Award winner and a 19-time All-Star. Ripken checked in at No. 3 on our countdown of the greatest shortstops in MLB history, and he's the best player in the history of the Orioles franchise. His No. 8 was retired in 2001, his final MLB season.