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Some of These Orioles Might Be All-Time Greats

Adam JonesSo I wrote up my weekly guest post for MASN and I talked about how cool it is that the Orioles have improved so much that a national vote is poised to land them four starters in the All-Star game. From there I got to thinking about how long it’s been since we had four players truly worthy — at the same time — of this honor. To find a team in Baltimore like that you’d have to go back before my time and, I suspect, before yours as well.

Here’s where that gets really crazy. It’s one thing to have a handful of good players in any given moment. We’ve got that, and it’s cool. But we might have something even more. We might have a solid group of guys who will eventually deserve a spot among the all time team greats.

Of guys who played solidly within the Losing Era I can only think of two, outside of Cal (who belongs to an earlier era), who deserve a spot on that list. There’s Mike Mussina, who while I can’t forgive him for bolting to the Yankees did nonetheless author quite a legacy here. Then there’s Brian Roberts, who is as hard-luck a player as I can ever remember but who should not be punished for this fact. He was very, very good while things were very, very bad.

That’s two guys in 14 years. You could make a case for Melvin Mora, Mike Bordick, and Miguel Tejada but I really don’t think they fit. Good players, all, but not all-time team greats. Ditto Jeff Conine and BJ Surhoff. Same again for Sidney Ponson and Erik Bedard. Only Mussina and Roberts really got to that upper tier, unless I’m totally blanking on another name.

Now, though, we have at least three guys in Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters who — depending on how things play out — should settle in that top level. If Chris Davis and Manny Machado stick around and stay strong there’s reason to believe they, too, could get there. There’s also a case for Jim Johnson and, well, why not consider the possibility that Gausman and/or Bundy could be Mussina-level pitchers?

That’s three and potentially eight players who could all claim a spot in Orioles lore among the greats. This after a decade-plus run with one guy who left and one guy who carried the torch solo for what felt like forever.

Hell, you could even decide to count Markakis as a Losing Era player and it still doesn’t change the dynamic much. We’re witnessing quite a renaissance here.

Maybe winning is coloring my perception some but I don’t think so. We never had a Davis or Machado during the Losing Era. We never had a dynamic, engaging, world-class outfielder like Jones. We thought we had some guys, sure, but we were grasping at straws. This group is different.

On one hand, this admittedly serves as a stark reminder of just how bad the Bad Years were. On the other, well, ain’t the beer cold? Finally.

7 comments to Some of These Orioles Might Be All-Time Greats

  • neal s

    Thanks for the kick in the ass, Dan the Man.

  • Andrew

    As much as I love Wieters, I’m not quite sure he’s an all time great yet. Until his bat becomes reliably close to what we were hoping for, he’s one of the best of the last 20 years, and one of top catchers to wear the orange and black, but I’d shy away from all timer.

    Crush and Manny, on the other hand, might be considered all timers even if they don’t stick around.

    Bundy and the Goose are wait and see, and after waiting and then seeing how the “Cavalry” turned out, I wouldn’t have them on the list at all yet.

  • dan the man

    @ neal s: Anytime, brotha!

    @ Andrew:
    Good to see you around, man. Gausman is particularly confounding considering his great stuff that for some reason does not miss bats. Just got pounded in his first AAA start. He could use a curveball in my opinion because so far his slider is pretty iffy. But no reason for panic yet.

    We’re witnessing some historic Oriole things happening. I mean, I’ve never seen a player do what Chris Davis is currently doing in an Orioles uni. I’m not sure I’ve seen a baseball player on any team hit home runs as effortlessly as he does, either. And who thought Manny would be leading the league in hits after hitting like .270 last year? Wild stuff.

    The O’s still need to prove they can develop some starting pitching – it’s been awhile since any “historic” Oriole pitchers have emerged (unless you count Johnson’s saves), but things look to be in better shape development-wise than they have in awhile.

    On Markakis, I couldn’t be happier for that dude. Not only is he finally on a winning team, but it makes it easier to accept that he isn’t going to be the power hitter we thought he might. All he has to do is complement this lineup with his great ABs and do his Nick thing.

  • dan the man

    I can’t believe we just let the Jays back into the race. I dislike them more than the Sox and Yanks, I really do. So disappointed that they are up off the mat now.

    Let’s take it out on Cleveland.

  • Greg S.

    I’ve accidentally stumbled back onto TLC.

    While perusing the internet for Oriole news, I came upon a forum post which brought back a name I hadn’t heard in a awhile: Vito Frabrizio.

    He used to be the underdog around here. He was one of those low-level non-prospects with a ton of talent and no name recognition. We all rooted for him.

    Because of Vito, all the memories of posting on TLC came flooding back. I don’t know why I ever stopped posting. I had to come back and share this article with you all.

    Anyway, an article by Pat Jordan, who recently visited Vito in prison to get his story.

  • dan the man

    Wow, pretty powerful article. Thanks for sharing. I had forgotten about Vito.. it’s pretty disheartening the way he describes the Orioles and you hope things have changed. They certainly seem to have. It’s funny because Dan Duquette is exactly the type of guy to take a chance on a reclamation project like Vito if he were to attempt a comeback.