Many Orioles uniform numbers are identifiable with one person in particular. We all know 4, 5, 8, 20, 22, and 33. 44 will only ever make me think of Elrod Hendricks, and it doesn't matter how many backup catchers are assigned #9, it belongs to Brady Anderson.
But some numbers aren't so clear, especially when two popular players donned the same uniform number for many years. Case-in-point: Brian Roberts
and Al Bumbry, the two best Orioles to ever wear the number 1.
Bumbry's career started off with a bang as he took home the 1974 Rookie of the Year, batting .337/.398/.500. His rookie year would actually end up being his best year at the plate as he only topped an .800 OPS once more in his career (1980). In his 13 seasons with the Orioles, Bumbry racked up 252 stolen bases with a 73% success rate. He finished in the top ten for stolen bases in the league 5 times and is currently 3rd in Orioles history in the category behind Brady Anderson (307) and Roberts (256). Bumbry was considered a very good defensive outfielder, mostly attributable to his speed. He also had the good fortune to be a part of four playoff teams, two of which went to the World Series.
Roberts didn't get going quite as fast as Bumbry in the beginning of his career. They both started when they were 25 years old, but Brian had to contend with Jerry Hairston and the concern he wouldn't be good enough to play every day. In 2004 he got his first chance to play everyday and put up his best offensive year yet, hitting .273/.344/.376 and he's only gotten better from there. Brian has 313 career doubles and 256 career stolen bases (80% success rate). When it's all said and done he will probably be the Orioles all time leader in steals. Defensively, Brian has always held his own at 2B but certainly isn't a wizard over there. Unfortunately for Roberts he's never been part of a winning team, let alone a playoff one (let's cross our fingers that changes soon).
So, who's better? A rundown of their stats with All-Time O's rank in parentheses:
My vote goes to Brian Roberts and it's not as close as I thought it would be. What do you think?