25. Luis Aparicio, SS (1963-1967)
All-Star: 1963, 1964
Gold Glove: 1964, 1966
We covered the trade that brought Aparicio to the Orioles in the Hoyt Wilhelm entry. Despite that Wilhelm in Chicago was better than Aparicio in Baltimore, Aparicio was no slouch for us.
Aparicio was not a hitter. He had one year where he was better than league average, which oddly enough came when he was 36 years old and had gone back to Chicago. The White Sox saw that for the fluke it was, I guess, and traded him to Boston after that season. But the man could play shortstop, and the game being the way it was at the time, he ran fast, so he was considered an igniter on offense. His speed regressed by the time he was on his way out in Baltimore, but when he came in he stole 40 bases in '63 and 57 in '64. After that, he had 26, 25 and 18.
If I were better with math, I would attempt to calculate what kind of value Brooks Robinson and Luis Aparicio had defensively in their five years together. It must've been intimidating to have been a right-handed hitter against those two, hoping to maybe pull a ground ball through the hole. And oddly enough, the Orioles upgraded defensively at shortstop after they traded Aparicio back to the White Sox (and we'll talk about that trade in the next entry, actually).
Aparicio was born on April 29, 1934, in Maracaibo, Venezuela. He was listed at 5'9", 160 pounds. He stole 506 bases (33rd all-time), had 2677 hits, won the 1956 AL Rookie of the Year award, finished second in the 1959 AL MVP voting, was a ten-time All-Star and a nine-time Gold Glover, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.