12. Bobby Grich, 2B (1970-1976)
All-Star: 1972, 1974, 1976
Gold Glove: 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976
Here was a hell of a baseball player. A Gold Glove second baseman, a guy who got on base, had some power, and unfortunately spent too few years an Oriole, playing five full seasons from 1972 through 1976.
Same kind of deal as with Palmeiro, in one regard: Every season Bobby Grich played in the major leagues (except 1978, when he was a hair below), Grich was equal to or better than the league average hitter, several times much better than. It didn't come from an exceptional batting average (.266 career hitter) or great power (he did have some pop, slugged .424), but from his on-base abilities. Grich had a .371 career on-base percentage.
Grich really arrived in Baltimore at age 23 in 1972 after a couple cups of coffee the two previous seasons. He had been drafted with the 19th pick of the '67 draft right out of high school (born in Muskegon, MI). In 133 games in 1972, Grich hit .278/.358/.415 with 12 homers and 50 RBI and made the All-Star team.
In 1973, he hit .251/.373/.387 and won his first Gold Glove. He really blossomed in 1974, when he hit .263/.376/.431 with 19 homers, 82 RBI, 90 walks and 17 steals. He also led the league in being hit by pitches, plunked 20 times. He won another Gold Glove, and then another, and then another. They were also the last Gold Gloves he would ever win.
Grich continued doing what he did in '75 and '76. In 1975 he walked 107 times (which he had also done in '73) and hit 13 homers. In 1976, he hit .266/.373/.417 with 31 doubles, 13 homers, 93 runs scored (a career high), 14 steals and 86 walks.
Grich was granted free agency on November 1, 1976, and signed with the Angels 23 days later. He stayed there the rest of his career, which lasted through the 1986 season. For his career, Grich hit 224 homers, scored 1033 runs, had 1833 hits, and walked 1087 times.
The best Grich story is probably the one his good friend, Don Baylor, told in his autobiography. According to Baylor, Earl Weaver pinch-hit for Grich in 1972, which angered Grich. Two things to note: Grich was a rookie, and Weaver was using Frank Robinson to pinch-hit for him. Grich went back to the dugout, grabbed Weaver by the throat, and shouted, "How do you expect me to hit in this league when you keep pinch-hitting for me all the time?"
Again, just by park-adjusted OPS+:
GREATEST OFFENSIVE SEASONS BY A SECOND BASEMAN IN ORIOLE HISTORY (MIN. 415 AB) 1. Brian Roberts, 2005 (145) 2. Bobby Grich, 1976 (138) 3. Roberto Alomar, 1996 (137) 4. Bobby Grich, 1974 (135) 5. Roberto Alomar, 1997 (134) 6. Bobby Grich, 1975 (130) 7. Davey Johnson, 1971 (125) 8. Bobby Grich, 1973 (116) 9. Delino DeShields, 2000 (110) 10. Davey Johnson, 1967 (108)
See also: Halos Heaven: The 100 Greatest Angels: No. 4, Bobby Grich.