Though sometimes overshadowed by division rivals New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles are one of the most historic franchises in Major League Baseball. Since their inaugural season in 1901, the Orioles have won three World Series championships (1966, 1970, and 1983). While they have enjoyed less postseason success than other teams, their list of greatest players can hold up against anyone! Using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) statistic, let’s look at their all-time best stars.
(Note: These rankings are based solely on each player’s WAR during their career with the Orioles. All WAR statistics are from Baseball Reference. The batting statistics can be accessed here. The pitching information can be found here.)
5) George Sisler: 1915-1927 (Career Orioles WAR: 52.1)
Career Stats (15 years): 8,267 at-bats, 1,284 runs, 102 home runs, 1,178 RBI, 375 stolen bases, .340 BA
Orioles Stats (12 years): 6,667 at-bats, 1,091 runs, 93 home runs, 962 RBI, 351 stolen bases, .344 BA
Sisler is a name many casual baseball fans may not recognize. His career began in 1915 when he was a member of the St. Louis Browns (who would be relocated to Baltimore and changed to the Orioles in 1953). While the star first baseman was never able to lead his team to the playoffs, he was one of the best pure hitters in history. The 1922 AL MVP held the record for most singles in a season (257) for nearly a century. Sisler also had a brief stint as the team manager during this last three seasons with the Browns. He was credited with 218 managerial wins during that stint.
4) Eddie Murray: 1977-1988; 1996 (Career Orioles WAR: 56.5)
Career Stats (21 years): 11,336 at-bats, 1,627 runs, 504 home runs, 1,917 RBI, 110 stolen bases, .287 BA
Orioles Stats (13 years): 7,075 at-bats, 1,084 runs, 343 home runs, 1,224 RBI, 62 stolen bases, .294 BA
Murray earned the nickname “Steady Eddie” during his run with the Orioles. The eight-time All-Star was an excellent hitter during both the regular and postseason. He was able to produce on the biggest stage with two home runs and seven RBI in his first playoff appearance (1979). He also added three homers and six RBI during the team’s 1983 World Series season. After an eight-year hiatus, Murray returned to Baltimore for one last playoff run in 1996.
3) Jim Palmer: 1965-1984 (Career Orioles WAR: 68.0)
Career Stats (19 years): 521 games started, 268 wins, 2.86 ERA, 2,212 strikeouts
Orioles Stats (19 years): Palmer played his entire career in Baltimore.
Palmer is the only player on this list to play for all three of Baltimore’s championship teams. He is also the best pitcher in the history of the franchise. The three-time AL Cy Young winner currently holds most of the Orioles all-time pitching records. It is also no coincidence that Palmer was a part of eight of the franchises’ 14 postseason appearances in history.
2) Brooks Robinson: 1955-1977 (Career Orioles WAR: 78.4)
Career Stats (23 years): 10,654 at-bats, 1,232 runs, 268 home runs, 1,357 RBI, 28 stolen bases, .267 BA
Orioles Stats (23 years): Robinson played his entire career in Baltimore.
On nearly any other franchise, Robinson would be the team’s best all-time player. Not only does he have an array of personal accomplishments (18 All-Star teams, 1964 AL MVP, 16 Gold Glove awards), but he was responsible for a tremendous amount of team success. He was a staple of two World Series championship teams and six postseason appearances.
1) Cal Ripken Jr.: 1981-2001 (Career Orioles WAR: 95.9)
Career Stats (21 years): 11,551 at-bats, 1,647 runs, 431 home runs, 1,695 RBI, 36 stolen bases, .276 BA
Orioles Stats (21 years): Ripken played his entire career in Baltimore.
Ripken’s career accomplishments are some of the most impressive in the history of baseball. The 19-time All-Star won two AL MVP awards (1983 and 1991) and holds a ridiculous record of 2,632 consecutive games played. He was also responsible for ushering in the second stint of success for the Orioles. After a great postseason run that resulted in two championships in the 1960s-1970s, Ripken helped reestablish the franchise as a legitimate title contender. His 1983 MVP season culminated in Baltimore’s third World Series title.
- Bobby Wallace (48.5)
- Mike Mussina (47.8)
- Mark Belanger (40.8)
- Ken Williams (40.4)
- Paul Blair (39.7)
- Urban Shocker (38.6)
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