Let’s not sugarcoat it; the Baltimore Orioles have been bad for a while.
The team has had four winning seasons since 1998 and has won just one Wild Card game and one Divisional Series during that time. But there was a time when things weren’t so grim for the Birds.
In fact, for a large part of three decades between the 1960s and 1980s, the Orioles were the toast of the American League. During that span, they reached the World Series six times and won three titles.
While we wait for brighter days in Baltimore, let’s take a stroll through the past and look at arguably the seven best players in the team’s history.
7. Boog Powell, 1B
Powell played with the Orioles from 1961 to 1974, helping the team win four American League pennants and two World Series Championships.
The slugging first baseman and left fielder was the best player in the American League in 1970, winning the Most Valuable Player award. In his 17-year career, Powell hit .266 with 339 home runs and 1,187 RBIs.
Powell finished the last few years of his career in Cleveland and Los Angeles before retiring after the 1977 season. He was inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame in 1979.
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6. Mike Mussina, SP
The man they call ‘Moose’ broke into the league with the Orioles in 1991 and was a fixture of the team until heading to the rival New York Yankees after the 2000 season.
Mussina won at least 11 games in 17 consecutive seasons – a record that still stands today. While never securing a Cy Young Award, Mussina was a five-time All-Star and a defensive wizard with seven Gold Gloves.
Moose finished his career with a .638 winning percentage and a 3.68 ERA. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019 in his sixth year of eligibility.
5. Frank Robinson, OF
Frank Robinson was 30 years old when he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 1966. All he did in his first year with the team was hit .316 with 49 home runs and 122 RBIs on his way to winning both the Triple Crown and the MVP.
Robinson played six seasons with the Orioles and was the unquestioned leader in the clubhouse. He was an all-star five times with the team and helped the O’s win two World Series.
Robinson finished his career with a gaudy .926 OPS and was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame.
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4. Eddie Murray, 1B
When you think of Eddie Murray, you think of the old-school strong, silent type. The 504-home run hitter spent his first 12 years with the Orioles and was an All-Star in seven of them.
The switch hitter was not just consistent at the plate and on the field, but he was also durable. During his time with the Orioles, he played fewer than 137 games just once.
A perennial MVP candidate with the club, Murray also won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger awards during his time in Baltimore.
3. Jim Palmer, SP
Jim Palmer spent his entire 19-year career with the Orioles and was the winningest pitcher in baseball throughout the 1970s.
He won 20 games on eight occasions and was the American League Cy Young winner thrice. He was also excellent at fielding his position, bringing home four Gold Gloves in his career.
The six-time all-star was an anchor of the team during the glory days, helping the O’s win three World Series. Palmer finished his career with a .638 winning percentage, 2.86 ERA, and 2212 strikeouts.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990.
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2. Brooks Robinson, 3B
Brooks Robinson played his entire 23-year career with the O’s from 1955 to 1977, tying him for the longest time spent with a single team in Major League history.
Robinson was nicknamed ‘the Human Vacuum Cleaner’ and ‘Mr. Hoover’ for his defensive prowess at third base. He is often regarded as the best defensive third baseman in MLB history.
Robinson won the MVP in 1964 when he hit .317 with 28 home runs and 118 RBIs. He also won the Gold Glove that year – one of his 16.
Mr. Hoover was an 18-time All-Star who helped the O’s win two World Series championships. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1983.
1. Cal Ripken Jr., SS
It won’t be a shock to anyone that ‘The Iron Man’ himself tops the list of all-time Oriole greats.
Ripken Jr. played 21 years for the Orioles after breaking into the league in 1981. Everyone knows about the Hall of Famer’s record-breaking streak of 2,632 consecutive games, but Ripken Jr. was also one of the most productive hitting shortstops of his time.
The Maryland native finished his career hitting .276 with 431 home runs and 1,695 RBIs. Ripken Jr. was a 19-time All-Star, two-two MVP, and AL Rookie of the Year. He helped the Orioles win their last World Series in 1983.
Cal was immortalized in the Hall of Fame in 2007 with 98.53% of the votes. You really have to wonder what the 1.47% of the voters that didn’t vote for him were thinking.