10. Ken Singleton, OF/DH (1975-1984)
All Star: 1977, 1979, 1981
I'm not sure how many people would put Singleton in the top ten, but he was an outstanding hitter for the Orioles in his ten seasons with the club, and was really a tremendous hitter overall in his career, very underrated historically. I'm not saying he should be in the Hall of Fame, but he deserves recognition.
Singleton was drafted by the Mets in 1967 out of Hofstra, and made his major league debut with New York on June 24, 1970, the season after the Miracle Mets beat the Orioles in the World Series. He had a 69-game run in '70, and was a key reserve for the '71 Mets. He hit just .245 with 13 homers in 298 at-bats, but he had a .374 on-base percentage and a 119 adjusted OPS+.
The Mets traded Singleton along with Tim Foli and Mike Jorgensen to the Expos for Rusty Staub on April 5, 1972. Stabu was another good player, somewhat similar to Singleton in fact, and he gave the Mets some fine years, though not as good as he'd had with Montreal. When Staub came to the Mets, he was 28. Singleton was 25 and ready to blossom.
In 1972, he hit .274/.363/.410 with 14 homers, and really came of age in 1973, hitting .302/.425/.479 with 23 homers, 103 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 123 walks. After a disappointing '74 season with the Expos, he was sent to Baltimore with Mike Torrez for Dave McNally, Rich Coggins and Bill Kirkpatrick. McNally was at the end of his line, as he pitched 77 terrible innings for the Expos and had to retire. Torrez spent one season with Baltimore and won 20 games.
Singleton stayed for the rest of his career, and hit up until the end. He posted OPS+ numbers of 132, 165, 152, 156, 142, 135, 101 and 131, then retired at 37 after an awful final season where he was hitting like Mark Belanger in a bad year. Singleton's four-year run from '77-'81 was one of the best individual offensive performances in Orioles history.
In 1977, he hit .328/.438/.507 with 24 homers and 99 RBI. The next year, he hit .293/.409/.462 with 20 homers and 81 RBI. He followed those two big seasons with a couple of big-time RBI years, hitting .295/.405/.533 with 35 homers and 111 RBi in '79 and .304/.397/.485 with 24 homers and 104 RBI in 1980.
Singleton was an impact hitter, and rated by Bill James as the 18th-best right fielder in the history of the game in 2001. In The Earl of Baltimore, Terry Pluto wrote, "He will not swing at a bad pitch and every action he takes on the field has a purpose. Like his speech and his dress, Ken Singleton the ballplayer is neat, precise and fluid."
James also noted that when he wrote the first version of The Historical Baseball Abstract, his wife, Susan, picked the best-looking players of each decade. "She picked Ken Singleton as one of the best-looking players of the 1970s. He sent her a note, thanking her for her comments."
Singleton is now a color commentator for the Yankees on the YES Network, and despite my loathing of that team and that network, Singleton is a fine commentator. I've never read anything other than Singleton being a class act and a gentleman. Frankly, he could easily rank even higher than this. And no, I'm not sure why the man swinging the bat on the Diamond Kings card is white.