First off, here's how this list is compiled: It's just put together with raw data, minor sabermetric influence, and some regard for what they meant to the team. We're not a sabermetric community. I'm a fan of the stats and I like to research them and pick through them, but this is not a technically ordered list by any stretch.
I also didn't want to include managers or front office types. Despite that Earl Weaver was indeed a great Oriole, I just wanted to do players here.
Some guys got cut that could have arguably made the list for one reason or another. I didn't want to completely disregard them, plus this has turned out to be a fun project for me, so let's just extend this and gab some about some of the cuts.
Ellie Hendricks (1968-1972, 1973-1976, 1978-1979)
Ellie, of course, spent the majority of his life within the Baltimore Orioles organization. Not just his baseball career, his life. After retiring as a player he stayed on as a member of the Orioles family, serving many, many years as a coach. He was the bullpen coach through last season, and was not renewed in the position for 2006. Shortly after, he passed away.
As a player, Hendricks doesn't really make the list. He was a platoon partner with Andy Etchebarren, wasn't a very good defensive catcher, and never had a truly good offensive season. But Ellie deserves mention here nonetheless, so he's getting it.
Pat Dobson (1971-1972)
Pat Dobson was an Oriole for two years and was really good in both of them. In '71, he went 20-8, and in '72, he went 16-18. Both years he posted a park-adjusted ERA+ of 116, with raw ERAs of 2.90 and 2.65, respectively. Those were also Dobson's two best seasons.
Ben McDonald (1989-1995)
I've said this before: I do not see Big Ben as a true bust. I see him as having had terrible luck. By the time he was 25 and had really gotten his feet wet, McDonald was a well above average major league pitcher. And he stayed above average for the rest of his career, which was cut short at 29 due to injuries. When he was healthy, you could see why he was the No. 1 pick in '89. It just didn't work out for him.
Gene Woodling (1955, 1958-1960)
Woodling had an interesting history with the Orioles. He was a very underrated player, posting a career park-adjusted OPS+ of 123. He got on base (career OBP of .386) and hit for average (.284). He had a little pop.
He was involved in that ridiculous November 1954 trade with the Yankees that also involved Gus Triandos, Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Willy Miranda, Hal Smith, Bob Turley, Don Larsen, Billy Hunter, Bill Miller, Kal Segrist, Don Leppert, Ted del Guerico, Mike Blyzka, Darrell Johnson, Jim Fridley and Dick Kryhoski.
Woodling was signed by Cleveland in 1940, played there a little in '43 and '46, went to Pittsburgh for another cup of coffee in '47, and then was purchased by the Yankees from San Francisco of the PCL in 1948. With New York, he found a home from '49 through '54, and played very well when he did play.
During the 1955 season with Baltimore, he was traded to Cleveland. He had a fantastic season in 1957 (.321/.408/.521, 19 HR), and wound up back with the Orioles the next year, traded for an aging Larry Doby (who never played a game for Baltimore) and lefty pitcher Don Ferrarese. The Orioles also got Bud Daley (who would also never suit up for the Birds) and Dick Williams in the deal. All in all, it was a winner of a trade.
Woodling had three productive seasons from 1958-1960, posting OBPs of .378, .402 and .401. In addition to walking a good amount, he rarely struck out (921 BB, 479 K for his career). As best I can tell, he was a decentish outfielder but didn't have great range. The Senators selected him in the 1960 expansion draft, and he was then bought and released by the New York Mets. He played his final game on September 15, 1962, and died on June 2, 2001, in Barberton, Ohio. Woodling very easily could have made this list and perhaps should have.
Billy Ripken (1987-1992, 1996)
Billy Ripken was a hell of a second baseman. If he had been anything more than an awful hitter, he not only would have had a longer career and spent more time starting, but he would have made this list. As it is, Billy doesn't get there, and really isn't even very close, but he's Billy Ripken, so he gets a mention.
Randy Milligan (1989-1992) and Mickey Tettleton (1988-1990)
Had the Orioles been a smidge less short-sighted at the time, these guys would both have made the list. They were the two best hitters on the '89 team, and were both good again in '90. Milligan was pretty good in '91 and had a somewhat rough '92, but he was still getting on base. It's sort of hard to fault the O's for Milligan, I guess, since he wound up out of baseball after the '94 season, but Tettleton went on to keep producing and producing and producing. We've talked about both of these guys here before.
Curt Schilling (1988-1990)
You know what, on second thought, let's just not.
Mike Bordick (1997-2000, 2001-2002)
Bordick is like a shorter-spanning Mark Belanger, except he had one season where he could hit. If Bordick had been in the organization as long as Belanger, he'd have easily made the list. Belanger was an outstanding shortstop and a horrible hitter. Bordick was an outstanding shortstop and a bad hitter. If you ask me which I'd rather have on my team, in their prime, I'd go with Bordick without thinking twice. His 2000 season, before he was sent to the Mets for their World Series run that fell short, was pretty wild. For whatever reason Mike Bordick was hitting .297/.350/.481 with 16 homers for us. It's hard to be mad that he got dealt, since the team wasn't contending and it wound up bringing us Melvin Mora, which was a shot in the dark and turned into a hell of a steal, plus Bordick came back anyway. He had two injury-riddled seasons where he returned to normal, then ended his career with Toronto in 2003. Good guy, good shortstop, doesn't quite make it.
Bob Nieman (1956-1959)
On May 21, 1956, Nieman came over from the White Sox along with George Kell, Connie Johnson and Mike Fornieles in exchange for Jim Wilson and Dave Philley. Johnson became a regular in the rotation for a couple seasons, Kell played out the end of the career that got him into the Hall of Fame, and Nieman had the best years of the group. His 388 at-bats in Baltimore in the '56 season saw him explode with his new team, batting .322/.442/.497, which had he kept it up and played enough to get 450 at-bats, would have put him into the top 20 of greatest Orioles offensive seasons (by park-adjusted OPS+) ever. As it is, he misses it, and there's a chance he wouldn't have continued that hot anyway. Then again, he was good in '57 and torrid in '58 (.325/.395/.522, 16 HR in 360 AB). Nieman was good again in '59 over 366 AB. Health and playing time obviously would have helped him.
Merv Rettenmund (1968-1972)
Only really played one full season with the O's, which was '71, and he could play. He had a .318 average and .422 OBP that season along with 14 homers and 15 steals. That was the meat of the sandwich with injured bread, as he surrounded it with two good but shortened campaigns in '70 and '72. He had one full-time season and it was a good one, but that's really it. The man could hit, though. He had a career line of .271/.381/.406. Not great, but he could've been a fine leadoff man.
Rich Dauer (1976-1985)
My only problem with Rich Dauer is he just wasn't that good of a player. He served a lot of time with the team, his entire professional career to be exact, but he was out of baseball at 32 and was never even average offensively, and while he had a fine fielding percentage, he doesn't stand as too good of a second baseman either.
Reggie Jackson (1976)
Jackson played one season, wasn't a fan favorite, and we basically served as the bridge in his career between Oakland and New York. That's fine, but Reggie produced that season. By park-adjusted OPS+, Reggie's 1976 ranks as the 17th-best offensive season by an Oriole with at least 415 at-bats since the franchise relocated to Baltimore in 1954.
Fred Lynn (1985-1988)
Fred Lynn was a very good player that a few times in his career was a hell of a great hitter. None of those times came during his stint with the Orioles, when he was aging and teetering on washed-up. We got Chris Hoiles out of him, which was the most he ever really did. He was very good in '86, though he only played in 112 games.
Joe Orsulak (1988-1992)
I wish Orsulak had been a better player. Good guy and one of the keys to the '89 turnaround, along with Tettleton, Milligan and Phil Bradley. He made for a fine spare outfielder, but he was a fringe starter at best.