Sometimes to kill time in the offseason, blogs will run simulation tournaments of historical teams, like the greatest teams in franchise history, or the greatest teams in baseball history, or the worst teams in franchise history (a Toilet Bowl sort of thing), and I wanted to do something like that, but I also wanted to try something different.
There are a few reasons. First and foremost, most of the best teams in Orioles history (1954-present) are Earl Weaver's teams, and simulating the 1969, 1970 and 1971 squads against each other would be really repetitive. With my idea, it's hard to avoid that in a couple cases, but at least there is the one difference.
In trying to come up with a "different" idea, I remember the old WWF Survivor Series events of my youth, which I loved because they weren't your average pro wrestling show. Teams of five strived to survive. They later changed the teams to just four apiece, which ruined the rhyming and in my view ruined the Survivor Series.
They would have cool names like "The Visionaries," the name of Captain Rick "The Model" Martel's team after he had blinded the captain of the other team, Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Hulk Hogan's teams were always called "The Hulkamaniacs," which was annoying, and the Ultimate Warrior's team was once creatively titled "The Ultimate Warriors," but then you'd get "Rude's Brood" v. "Roddy's Rowdies" and I was down with that.
So from that came the idea of captains. Not counting Lum Harris (even though we're counting Lum Harris), the O's have had exactly 16 managers, which is perfect tournament size.
And there you have your captains. It also allows for there to be Cinderella stories; say the Cal Ripken Sr. team makes a big run, or Perlozzo's. Anything can happen
in the WWF on WhatIfSports and Camden Chat.
Let's meet the teams!
Distinction: The first modern Baltimore Orioles team
Captain: Jimmie Dykes, a two-time All-Star during his 22-year playing career (1918-39). He spent the majority of his playing days with the Philadelphia A's, and was bought by the White Sox for $100,000 in September of 1932. Dykes served as player-manager for the Sox from 1934-39, and stayed on as manager after his retirement for another six seasons, plus 30 games in 1946. From there he went back to the A's, managing for three seasons.
The 1954 campaign was his only one at the helm of the Orioles, as he would be replaced by Paul Richards. In 1958, he managed the Reds, and then went to Detroit for 1959. In 1960, he was traded by the Tigers to Cleveland for manager Joe Gordon, which is obviously not a very common occurence. But Indians GM Frank Lane did love to trade. Dykes' managerial career ended after the 1961 season with Cleveland. He never won a pennant, never had a team finish better than third place, and his best team was the 1937 White Sox, who went 86-68.
Dykes was born in 1896, and died in 1976.
Best Hitter: Outfielder Cal Abrams, who batted a robust .293/.400/.421 (133 OPS+) in 423 at-bats. Third baseman Vern Stephens led the team in home runs, with eight, and also paced the club with 46 RBIs. Saying the '54 Orioles couldn't hit is an insult to teams that couldn't hit. They scored 3.14 runs per game, dead last in the American League. The Philadelphia A's were next-worst, at 3.47.
Best Pitcher: Probably Duane Pillette (10-14, 3.12/1.26, 115 ERA+) even though he threw "only" 179 innings. Bob Turley was the team's All-Star representative, going 14-15 with a 3.46 ERA in 247 1/3 innings. He walked 181 batters.
Other Notes: Don Larsen went 3-21, then was part of that massive and ridiculous trade with the Yankees in November. ... 29-year old second baseman Chico Garcia was the only player on the team not from America. The Mexican had 62 at-bats in 39 games, and never played in the league again. ... At this time, Frank Lucchesi was a minor league manager, and he managed part of the season for the Class C Pine Bluff Judges of the Cotton States League. Lucchesi would go on to become famous for being the victim of a punching by Texas Rangers second baseman Lenny Randle. Lucchesi was managing the Rangers then and had benched the player. Lucchesi sued Randle for $200,000 after Lucchesi was fired, which was "indirectly" tied to the incident.
Distinction: First Orioles team to win 90 games. Also the team that gave up Roger Maris' 59th and 60th home runs.
Co-Captains: Paul Richards and Lum Harris were like Forrest and Jenny, except they never had sex to the best of anyone's knowledge (sorry for the spoiler if you haven't seen that movie), and only one of them (Harris) was from Alabama.
Richards was, in kind words, a bad baseball player from 1932-35, and then he played from 1943-46, ages 34-37. Outside of '46, those were the war years, and Richards played because baseball needed players. He finished 17th in AL MVP voting in 1944 and 10th in 1945, though he was not really good in either year.
Richards is also the man responsible for the big gloves catchers use to catch knuckleballers, designed for Gus Triandos, who had a hell of a time catching Hoyt Wilhelm, and the guy that brought Brooks Robinson into professional baseball. He also had a reputation for being a bit arrogant. "A bit" is probably being nice.
Luman "Lum" Harris was Richards' protégé, as it were, another iffy ballplayer who played through the war years. Both were better baseball minds than they were players. Harris took over late in the season in '61 for Richards, who left the Orioles to take over the front office of the expansion Houston Colt .45's. The two reunited later in Houston, when Harris took over as manager for 13 games in 1964, and stayed through '65. They paired up again in Atlanta from 1968-72. Harris managed the '69 Braves, who lost the first-ever NLCS to the Miracle Mets. Richards was GM of that team.
Richards was born in 1908 and died in 1986, both events occuring in Waxahachie, TX. Harris died in 1996 at the age of 81, in Pell City, AL. Paul Richards Park in Waxahachie is a Texas Historical Landmark today.
Best Hitter: Jim Gentile, without question. Gentile hit .302/.423/.646 with 46 homers and 141 RBIs, good for a 187 OPS+. The American League MVP that year, Roger Maris, posted a 167 OPS+, which trailed Gentile heavily, but neither compared to Maris' teammate, Mickey Mantle (206) or Norm Cash's career year in Detroit (201). Gentile's 1961 season is one of the best offensive seasons in Baltimore history.
Best Pitcher: Milt Pappas (13-9, 3.04/1.19, 127 ERA+) has the best numbers, but they came in 70 less innings than thrown by the solid Steve Barber (18-12, 3.33/1.31, 116 ERA+). Barber finished 14th in MVP voting that season. He walked 130 batters.
All-Stars: CF Jackie Brandt, 1B Gentile, 3B Brooks Robinson, RP Hoyt Wilhelm
Other Notes: 1961 was the first season Brooks Robinson started for the American League All-Stars at third base. He had made the team in 1960. Robinson started again from 1964-68 and 1971-74. ... Hoyt Wilhelm was an All-Star and the team's relief ace, but lefty Billy Hoeft (2.02 ERA in 138 IP) was even more dominant. ... A 19-year old kid named John Wesley "Boog" Powell played in four games, going 1-for-13. ... If Jack Fisher had been just one point of ERA+ better than he was, the Orioles would have had five starters that were exactly league average or better. The team was third-to-last in the AL in runs scored per game, but won 95 games on the strength of baseball's best pitching staff, and the race wasn't especially close. The Orioles had a team ERA of 3.22, with the Yankees finishing second at 3.46. Detroit was third at 3.55, and the NL's best pitching team was St. Louis (3.74).
Distinction: The lone year that catcher John Orsino hit
Captain: Billy Hitchcock took over in 1962 after Richards and Harris left the organization, and the O's decreased in wins from 95 to 77. In '63, Hitchcock got the team back up to 86 wins, but was replaced by Hank Bauer anyway. He managed again in Atlanta, taking over in the middle of the 1966 season and staying for 1967. He was then replaced by Harris. He had a career record of 274-261 as a manager.
Hitchcock was a lousy hitting utility infielder for the Tigers, Senators, Browns, Red Sox, A's and Tigers again in the 1940s and 1950s. He made his major league debut on April 14, 1942, and last played in 1953.
Perhaps more notable than his baseball playing and managing career were his other sports ventures. He was President of the Southern League (AA) from 1971-80, and he was also an All-Conference tailback at Auburn. He led the Tigers to their first-ever bowl game, the 1937 Bacardi Bowl, where Auburn tied Villanova, 7-7. He established the Billy Hitchcock Golf Tournament at Auburn in later years, and the university's baseball field was renamed Hitchcock Field in 2003.
Hitchcock died in 2006 at the age of 89.
Best Hitter: Orsino had the best OPS+ (133), but did so in 379 AB. The team's best hitter was either 21-year old Boog Powell (.265/.328/.470, 25 HR) or Gentile (.248/.353/.429, 22 HR). Brooks Robinson had had his first really good batting season in 1962, but dropped off considerably (52 points of AVG, 37 points of OBP and 121 points of SLG) in '63.
Best Pitcher: Barber (20-13, 2.75/1.33 in just under 260 innings)
All-Stars: SS Luis Aparico, SP Steve Barber, 3B Brooks Robinson
Other Notes: This was Luis Aparicio's first year with the Orioles, having come over in the Hoyt Wilhelm deal from Chicago. He made the All-Star team, but it was the lone year between 1958 and 1964 that he failed to win the Gold Glove at shortstop. Zoilo Versalles of the Twins took the award. ... On the topic of Gold Gloves, Brooks won the fourth of 16 straight in '63.
Distinction: First-ever Baltimore Orioles World Series champions
Captain: Hank Bauer was the man who led the O's to their first-ever pennant and World Series championship with this 1966 team, which "shockingly" swept the Dodgers in the World Series. I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you look at those teams and their numbers, it ain't that shocking.
Bauer had managed the Kansas City A's in 1961 and 1962 after a solid 14-year playing career that ended after 43 games in '61. He is best known as a player for his years with the Yankees (1948-59). He finished eighth in the MVP voting in 1955, and made the All-Star team from 1952-54. Bauer took over as Orioles manager for the 1964 season, and the team finished two games behind the Yankees in a great AL pennant race. The next year, they won 94 games, and then owned the AL in '66. A huge drop to 76-85 the next season probably sealed Bauer's fate. He was fired at 43-37 in 1968, and Earl Weaver took over. The rest, as they say, is history.
Hank died on February 9, 2007, in Lenexa, KS. He was 84.
Best Hitter: The Orioles acquired Frank Robinson from the Cincinnati Reds on December 9, 1965. He had a monstrous 1966 season, hitting .316/.410/.637 (198 OPS+) with 49 homers and 122 RBI. He won the Triple Crown and the MVP award, and also lead the league in OBP, SLG, OPS (duh), runs scored, total bases, adjusted OPS+, runs created, adjusted batting runs, batting wins, runs created, times on base and offensive win percentage.
Best Pitcher: Barber was outstanding, but only threw 133 innings. Young Dave McNally (13-6, 3.17/1.30) was barely above league average, but he was the best starting pitcher overall, given how few pitched many innings. Only McNally and some moon-faced kid named Jim Palmer threw over 200. Closer Stu Miller might have been the most valuable pitcher on the team, throwing 92 innings with a 2.25 ERA.
All-Stars: SP Steve Barber, C Andy Etchebarren, 3B Brooks Robinson, RF Frank Robinson (started in LF)
Other Notes: Of the 15 pitchers that took the mound for the O's, only four (Miller, Eddie Fisher, Dick Hall and Ed Barnowski) didn't start at least once. ... It was a really, really young team, which is famous, but only nine players that suited up were 30 or older. McNally (23), Palmer (20), Eddie Watt (25) and Wally Bunker (21) were the innings pitched leaders, and the only starting position players in their 30s were Aparicio (32) and Frank Robinson (30). 32-year old Russ Snyder also was important offensively.
Record: 108-54, World Series champions
Distinction: Weaver's only World Series-winning team; maybe not his best team (it's debatable), but the only one that won the World Series
Captain: Earl Weaver was born August 14, 1930, in St. Louis, and he would go on to revolutionize baseball in many ways. He extensively used statistics to scout players, which was hardly the norm in that era. Much of the "Moneyball" style of baseball can be traced back to what Weaver did, as well as such "nerdy" things as keeping large notebooks full of statistics. He based his lineups on matchups. During the 1972 spring training season, Weaver was the first to use radar guns to measure velocity. Earl was also one of the first to utilize his bench to such a large degree, and he loved platoons if he had a good one (Lowenstein/Roenicke is the best example).
He also provided the A.I. for Earl Weaver Baseball, a computer game released in 1987 that holds up today. He was also ejected from a record 97 games and was one of the most hilarious, profane men in baseball history.
Best Hitter: Boog Powell had one of his best seasons, hitting .297/.412/.549 with 35 homers and 114 RBI. He walked 104 times, the only time in his career he hit triple digits in free passes, aided by a career-high 18 intentional walks.
Best Pitcher: Palmer, who won 20 games for the first time and threw 305 innings.
All-Stars: SP Mike Cuellar, 2B Davey Johnson, SP Dave McNally, SP Jim Palmer, 1B Boog Powell, 3B Brooks Robinson, RF Frank Robinson
Other Notes: This was Frank Robinson's second-to-last season in Baltimore. He would be traded to the Dodgers on November 28, 1972. The O's sent Pete Richert (1.98 ERA as the closer in 1970) with Robinson. ... Bobby Grich made his major league debut on June 29. Don Baylor made his on September 18. ... '66 World Series hero Moe Drabowsky returned to the Orioles in a June trade with the Royals. He was traded to the Cardinals in November. ... The team was the AL's best hitting and best pitching club.
Record: 98-64, World Series champions
Distinction: The first O's team not managed by Weaver since 1968
Captain: I agree it's a poor "team name," but it's the truth, and if an NBA team can be a reflection of the local weather, then this flies with me. Whatever, dude.
Joe Altobelli was a 1B/OF that topped out as a AAA power hitter and had some cups of coffee with the Twins and Indians. In 1966, he became a manager in the Orioles farm system, including six years as manager of the AAA Rochester Red Wings. His Rochester teams finished in first place on four occasions. In 1977, Altobelli was hired to manage the San Francisco Giants, and went 75-87 in his first season. In his second year, the Giants improved to 89-73, but after a 61-79 start to the '79 campaign, he was replaced by Dave Bristol.
Altobelli was a surprise as Earl Weaver's replacement for 1983, but he made the most of the good team Earl left behind. They won the AL East by six games over the Tigers, then beat the White Sox in four games in the ALCS. They handled the Phillies in five games to win the World Series.
Altobelli's Orioles went 85-77 in '84, and he was replaced by the returning Weaver after a 29-26 start in 1985. He managed one game for the 1991 Cubs between Don Zimmer and Jim Essian.
Best Hitter: Cal Ripken Jr. won the MVP award with an incredible season just one year after winning Rookie of the Year, but the team's best hitter was Eddie Murray. Murray hit .306/.393/.538 with 33 homers and 111 RBI. But you can't go wrong naming either as the team's best hitter, and Ripken was the more valuable player. There weren't exactly many similar shortstops.
Best Pitcher: Scott McGregor went 18-7 with a 3.18 ERA in 260 innings. Mike Boddicker would have taken it had he stayed healthy.
All-Stars: RP Tippy Martinez, Murray and Ripken
Other Notes: Murray won the second of three straight Gold Gloves in '83. He also won his first Silver Slugger, which he won again in 1984 and later in 1990 with the Dodgers. ... 36-year old DH Ken Singleton tied Murray for the team lead in OBP (.393). ... Jim Palmer was on his last legs, pitching in 14 games in 1983 and five more the next year. ... This team got by and won a World Series even with Todd Cruz (55 OPS+) and Leo Hernandez (83) splitting time at third base.
Distinction: Cal Sr.'s only full-season team
Captain: Cal Ripken Sr. was a fine man, a great teacher, and no doubt could've been remembered as a great leader. But his legacy as a major league manager is short and unforgiving. This team went 67-95, and after an 0-6 start the next year, he was replaced by Frank Robinson. The Orioles would lose 15 more in a row to start the season 0-21.
His firing was a big deal to Cal Jr., the superstar shortstop, but it was what it was. More important than his record as a manager was what Cal Sr. contributed to the Orioles for so many years beforehand. He was a mentor to his sons, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer and dozens of others. He deserves to be remembered very, very fondly, and no Oriole has worn the number 7 since his death in 1999 at the age of 63.
Best Hitter: Larry Sheets in his career year, hitting .316/.358/.563 with 31 homers.
Best Pitcher: Mike Boddicker, which is kind of sad. Boddicker was barely above league average at 10-12 with a 4.18 ERA, and that easily gives him the "best pitcher" distinction.
All-Stars: Kennedy and Ripken, both starters. To be fair, Kennedy did hit 18 homers, but that's about all he did.
Other Notes: This was a team with several pretty good players on the downsides of their careers, plus neither Murray (a solid .277/.352/.477) nor Ripken (.252/.333/.436) had particularly good years. The '87 O's housed 31-year old catcher Terry Kennedy, deservedly in his final year as a full-time player; 34-year old third baseman Ray Knight, who stunk in his lone O's season; 35-year old Fred Lynn, the 1975 AL MVP who couldn't stay healthy; 39-year old Lee Lacy in his final year; and 35-year old Mike Flanagan and 33-year old Scott McGregor, who were both reaching the end of their lines. It was a really poorly-constructed team that had no hope of winning. Cal Sr. was handed a lemon. ... Current Rangers manager Ron Washington played in 26 games. ... Cult favorite Floyd Rayford's final season was 1987.
Distinction: After the worst season in Orioles history, Frank Robinson nearly leads the Birds to the AL East title
Captain: Frank Robinson the player is, I still say, the most talented man to ever put on an Orioles uniform. He is one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, a man who hit 586 career home runs playing largely in a pitchers era. He won two MVP awards, the Rookie of the Year award, a Gold Glove, the World Series MVP in 1966, and the All-Star MVP in 1971. He made 12 All-Star teams.
As a manager, he's been largely given very flawed teams. He helmed the 1975-76 Indians as a player-manager, then stayed on as manager after his on-field retirement for one more year. From 1981-84, he was with the Giants. He came back to Baltimore and took over for Cal Sr. early in '88, going 54-101. The next season, he almost made a miracle happen, guiding a young, Eddie Murray-less Orioles team to an 87-75 record and a pennant race with the division-winning Toronto Blue Jays (89-73).
We all know the Orioles blew it when they had the chance to make something happen late in the year, but by conventional wisdom they shouldn't even have been there. Murray was gone after a falling out with management, leaving only Cal Ripken Jr. as a truly established star player on the team. And for the second straight year, Ripken didn't do a whole lot offensively. Randy Milligan, Mickey Tettleton, Phil Bradley and Joe Orsulak drove the team's offense with on-base skills. They were four players Earl Weaver would've been proud to have.
Robinson couldn't make the magic stick, which was because the '89 team played way over their heads. They regressed to 79-83 for 1990, and Frank was canned in 1991 after a 42-64 start.
Frank later took over in Montreal in 2002, managing the last three Expos teams and the first two incarnations of the alleged Washington Nationals. He remains a man of certain distinction in baseball.
Best Hitter: Tettleton and Milligan were both outstanding walk machines with power (Mickey led the team with 26 homers), but neither played the whole season. Phil Bradley did, hitting .277/.364/.417 with 11 homers and 20 steals. Not a superstar season, but a strong effort. On a raw level, without taking into account playing time, Milligan and Tettleton both out-hit him with ease.
Best Pitcher: Jeff Ballard's 1989 was one of the luckiest seasons you'll ever see. He went 18-8 with a 3.43 ERA, which is solid, but he gave up 240 hits in 215 innings, and struck out a total of 62 batters compared to 57 walks. Ballard's season was a fluke, which is proven by the fact that he never had another good one. A strong case can be made for Rookie of the Year Gregg Olson (1.69 ERA in 85 innings, and the Otter was second on the team in strikeouts, with 90). The Orioles really didn't miss many bats -- it's a wonder they were an 87-win team.
All-Stars: Ripken and Tettleton
Other Notes: Their Pythagorean record was 83-79, which is a lot more realistic and doesn't make the "slip" in 1990 seem like much at all. This was a lucky team. ... Catcher Chris Hoiles made his debut on April 25. ... Much-hyped pitcher Ben McDonald made his debut in September, a couple months after being drafted No. 1 overall. ... Mark Williamson threw his third straight year of 100 innings in relief, most of it in relief. He never did it again, and his career was over at 34. ... Third baseman Craig Worthington finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting, behind Olson, Tom Gordon and Ken Griffey, Jr., in that order. Jim Abbott and Kevin Brown also received votes.
Distinction: The winningest Orioles team since Altobelli's championship
Oates Note: I could've easily used the strike-shortened '94 team, which was at 63-49 and had a better winning percentage, but I wanted to keep back-to-back years out of the picture as much as possible, and '95 had to be used.
Captain: Johnny Oates, like Cal Ripken, was a man who died before his time. Oates passed away at age at just 58 years old on Christmas Eve 2004, the result of an aggressive brain tumor.
Of his playing days, Oates would say in 2003, "I still don't know how I got to the big leagues, because I wasn't that good. I was a slap hitter. I kept my mouth shut. I did. I kept my mouth shut. I couldn't throw. I couldn't throw a lick."
He was drafted 10th overall by the Orioles out of Virginia Tech in 1967, and made his major league debut on September 17, 1970. He was a backup catcher for 11 seasons. In 1982, his managerial career began as the skipper of the Nashville Sounds, the Yankees' Double-A team, and in 1988, he took over Baltimore's AAA team in Rochester. The next season he was Baltimore's first base coach, and he was promoted to manager after Frank Robinson's dismissal in 1991.
The '92 Orioles improved by 22 games to go 89-73, finishing in third place behind Toronto (96-66) and Milwaukee (92-70). The Orioles finished 85-77 the next season, and started off 63-49 and in were in contention for what would have been the first-ever American League wild card playoff entry before the 1994 strike hit. Peter Angelos relieved Oates of his duties despite his 291-270 record with the Orioles.
The Rangers quickly hired Oates, who took the team to its first ever postseason in 1996 with a 92-70 record. He was named AL Manager of the Year. The team went to the playoffs under Oates again in 1998, and again lost in the ALDS to the Yankees. The same thing happened in 1999. The club slumped in 2000 and started 11-17 in 2001. Johnny Oates resigned, and he never managed again. He was considering getting back into the game when diagnosed with the tumor.
Johnny Oates is enshrined in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, and had his number (26) retired by the Rangers.
Best Hitter: Center fielder Brady Anderson had a breakout season, hitting .271/.373/.449 with 21 homers, 80 RBI, 53 stolen bases and 98 walks.
Best Pitcher: 23-year old Mike Mussina's first full season was the best of his 18-year career. Moose went 18-5 with a 2.54 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP, finishing fourth in the Cy Young voting, 21st in MVP voting, and making the first of four All-Star teams for his career.
All-Stars: Anderson, Mussina and Ripken
Other Notes: This was the first season at Camden Yards. ... With Anderson, Mussina and Chris Hoiles (.274/.384/.506 in part-time duty) emerging so strongly, this was the team that set the wheels in motion for the re-rising of the Birds, which should be a more fondly remembered period of time as the years go on. ... Mussina was basically the team's only truly reliable starter, as Ben McDonald and veteran Rick Sutcliffe both struggled. ... Ripken had a lousy season at bat, hitting .251/.323/.366. ... Gregg Olson turned in the last of his truly dominant and fully healthy seasons. ... Ripken won his second straight Gold Glove. ... '83 World Series team members Rick Dempsey and Mike Flanagan both finished up their careers on this team.
Distinction: Regan's only major league managing job, ever, and it lasted one season
Captain: Back when he was a major league relief pitcher, Sandy Koufax nicknamed teammate Phil Regan "The Vulture" because he came in late in games and was credited with wins when the Dodgers would pull it out. In his lone great year of 1966, Reagan was the relief ace for Los Angeles and went 14-1 with a 1.62 ERA in addition to 21 saves. Outside of that season, Regan was a mediocre pitcher with a couple decent years. He had started his playing career with the Tigers as a starting pitcher, and was born in Otsego, MI.
From 1973-82, Regan managed at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI, a school now famous for a powerful lower-tier college football program. In '83 he got back into major league baseball as a pitching instructor and advance scout in the Mariners system, then found himself the Seattle pitching coach from 1984-86. He went to work in the Dodgers organization in 1987, staying for six years as a roving instructor and scout. In 1994, he was the pitching coach for the Indians. Cleveland's pitching staff ranked fifth in the American League, and despite minimal experience, really, Angelos hired him to replace Johnny Oates for the 1995 season.
Regan's time was short-lived. The strike-shortened, 144-game season was Regan's one and only, and the team was a disappointing 71-73 despite strong pitching. They didn't hit; the Birds ranked second in pitching (behind the Indians) and just ninth in hitting.
In 1996, he went back to the Dodgers, managing at AAA, and in 1997 he returned to his role as pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs. He did two years there, and you can argue he helped start the immediate hammer-and-nail routine on Kerry Wood's arm. He went back to Cleveland in 1999, was the pitching coach for the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, managed the Low-A West Michigan Whitecaps in 2002-03, and has been serving as a manager in the Venezuelan Winter League with various teams since 1989, which he still continues to do.
Best Hitter: Rafael Palmeiro hit a robust .310/.380/.583 with 39 homers and 104 RBI.
Best Pitcher: Mussina again, going 19-9 with a 3.29 ERA.
Other Notes: In July, the Orioles traded prospects Alex Ochoa and Damon Buford to the Mets for Bobby Bonilla, who was tearing it up in New York. He continued to rake for the Birds, hitting .333/.392/.544 with 10 homers in 61 games. ... Andy Van Slyke was signed as a free agent on April 21, and traded to the Phillies in June. At the time of his trade, he was hitting a rotten .159/.221/.317. The 1995 season would be his last. ... Speaking of last years, powerful catcher Matt Nokes was signed in December, then released in June, and signed in July by Colorado. He didn't hit at either stop, and that was it. ... JUNE 24, 1995: ZAUN.
Record: 98-64, AL East champions
Distinction: Baltimore's first division champion since 1983, and they went wire-to-wire
Second Distinction: The last good team the Orioles have ever had
Captain: Davey Johnson might as well have been called Earl Weaver Jr. considering his style and where he came from. As a player, he was an above average second baseman with one out of this world season (1973 in Atlanta with 43 homers) who had been brought into the league under Bauer, but came into his own under Weaver. He made four All-Star teams and won three Gold Gloves.
As a manager, he was a genius, and he won everywhere he went. He started his major league managerial career with the Mets in 1984, at age 41. Back-to-back second place finishes led to the Mets winning the World Series in 1986. Whether you want to consider it luck that they won thanks to Buckner's error in game six, they were a better team than Boston. They won the division again in 1988, going 100-62. Johnson's other Mets teams went 92-70 and 87-75, never finishing worse than second place. He was, strangely enough, considered too laid-back by the Mets front office, and when the team started 20-22 in 1990, he was fired.
In 1993, the Reds hired Johnson after canning Tony Perez, and Johnson went 53-65 with a bad team. The next season? The Reds were 66-48 and in first place when the strike hit. In 1995, they won the division, going 85-59. They swept the Dodgers in the NLDS, but were then swept out by Atlanta in the NLCS.
Johnson returned "home" to Baltimore in 1996, and the team went 88-74 and won the wild card. They lost in the ALCS to New York. In 1997, Johnson went 98-64, lost again in the ALCS, won the Manager of the Year, and then resigned after arguments with Peter Angelos. The Orioles haven't had a winning season since. Angelos had chased away his second good manager.
He came back for two seasons with the Dodgers, going 77-85 in 1999 and 86-76 in 2000. In 2008, he led Team USA to a bronze medal finish at the Olympic Games in Beijing. He manages the other Team USA in the World Baseball Classic as well.
Best Hitter: Brady Anderson, who hit .288/.393/.469 with 39 doubles and 18 home runs.
Best Pitcher: Mussina, at 15-8 with a 3.20 ERA and a career-best 218 strikeouts.
All-Stars: Anderson, Mussina, Ripken, 2B Roberto Alomar and RP Randy Myers
Other Notes: Myers won the Rolaids Relief award. ... Mussina and Palmeiro won Gold Gloves. ... The Orioles haven't had a winning season since. ... The Orioles haven't had a winning season since. ... The Orioles haven't had a winning season since. ... The Orioles haven't had a winning season since. ... The Orioles haven't had a winning season since.
Distinction: Albert Belle's first season as an Oriole, and Ripken's first as a part-time player
Captain: Ray Miller was born in Takoma Park, MD, went to high school in Suitland, MD, and was named All-State in baseball in 1963. He never made it to the major leagues.
However, in his final minor league season with Rochester, Miller served as a player-coach, and the next year was appointed a minor league pitching instructor by the Orioles. He kept that job from 1974-77, and then went to the Rangers to join their staff.
In January 1978, Orioles pitching coach George Bamberger was named manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, and Miller took his place. Miller coached the 1979 AL champions and the 1983 World Series champions. In June of 1985, Miller replaced Twins manager Billy Gardner and went 50-50 over the final 100 games. The next season, with the team at 59-80, Miller was fired, and Tom Kelly took over.
Ray returned to his role as a pitching coach, working for the Pirates (1987-96), and then returned to Baltimore under Davey Johnson in 1997. When Johnson quit, Miller was promoted to manager, which was probably stupid, and I mean no offense to Ray Miller, but he was a lousy manager. He had no better success in Baltimore than he did in Minnesota, and was fired after two seasons.
He returned again as the pitching coach for 2004-05, but was sidelined after an aneurysm surgery. He was replaced by Leo Mazzone for the 2006 season, which went swimmingly, and hasn't coached since. Ray Miller's one of the best damn pitching coaches to ever live.
Best Hitter: Albert Belle (.297/.400/.541, 37 HR) by a country mile.
Best Pitcher: Mussina again. 18-7, 3.50.
All-Stars: DH Harold Baines, Mussina, Ripken and LF B.J. Surhoff
Other Notes: Ripken played in 86 games, hitting .340/.368/.584 with 18 dongs. ... The Orioles finally sent Rocky Coppinger packing in July, trading him to the Brewers. ... On April 2, the Orioles acquired Jeff Conine from the Royals for Chris Fussell, a trade that inarguably worked out for Baltimore. ... In August, the Orioles sent Baines to Cleveland. On December 9, 1999, they re-signed Baines. ... Former Expo, Dodger and Cardinal Delino DeShields replaced Roberto Alomar at second base. It didn't really work out. ... In his first season with the Orioles, veteran Will Clark hit a ton for the 77 games he actually played. He played 130 games the next year between Baltimore and St. Louis and raked in both cities. He retired on top of his game. Will Clark is a badass.
Distinction: This was the team paced in OPS by Jay Gibbons
Hargrove Note: This wasn't his best team in Baltimore, but all four were similarly crap, so I took the one that split up years between the other two managers.
Captain: Mike Hargrove was nicknamed "The Human Rain Delay" because of how long he took at the plate in every at-bat, constantly calling time and such. Everyone does it now, even Brandon Fahey. He was an exceptionally patient hitter that worked a ton of walks and didn't strike out, but didn't have a lot of power. He could hit for average pretty well. His final career line was .290/.396/.391, which you might expect out of a guy that could run, maybe, a great leadoff hitter, but Hargrove stole 24 bases in 12 seasons.
At 41, Hargrove took over as manager of the Cleveland Indians, then most famous for the movie Major League, which chronicled their real life woes in a fantastical sense. Hargrove helped put together an outstanding team that was winning by 1994 (66-47), and won the American League pennant in 1995 and 1997. The '95 pennant win was their first in 41 years.
After going 89-73 and 97-65 in his final two seasons in Cleveland, Indians GM John Hart dismissed Hargrove, which angered a lot of fans. He came to Baltimore, which proved that maybe he wasn't so smart after all. Handed a rotten team that wasn't about to get any better, Hargrove went 74-88, 63-98, 67-95 and 71-91 in four seasons before getting axed again. He probably wasn't anymore deserving of being fired the second time around than he was the first.
Hargrove managed two-plus seasons in Seattle (2005-07) and had the Mariners off to a surprising 45-33 start in 2007 when he resigned and was replaced by John McLaren. The Mariners have stunk since.
Best Hitter: Jay Gibbons. Seriously.
Best Pitcher: Rookie of the Year runner-up Rodrigo Lopez went 15-9 with a 3.57 ERA.
All-Stars: 3B Tony Batista (.244/.309/.457, 31 HR)
Other Notes: Nobody on the team made 30 starts. ... Pat Hentgen, who had been signed as a free agent to a three-year deal in another Angelos moment of brilliance, made four starts. He had made nine the year before in his Baltimore debut season. ... A very good one-two punch at the back of the bullpen (Jorge Julio and Buddy Groom) was essentially wasted. ... Though pitching has been the main complaint over the last decade-plus, the Orioles were firmly in the middle of the AL pack in 2002. The hitting was second-to-last.
Distinction: An influx of aged talent and a new manager as Angelos tries to buy his way out of the mess he's been making for the last six years
Captain: Lee Mazzilli was born in Brooklyn, is best remembered as a Met, and has Yankee ties, too. Everything about Mazzilli is/was very "New York," which is hard to deal with for most Orioles fans. There never seemed to be any connection between Mazzilli and Orioles fans, save for that one awesome day in 2005 when he chucked the gum tray out onto the field in support of Melvin Mora.
Lee was a pretty decent player who was greased lightning when he was young, a kid that could really move. He stole seven bases in a California League game once, which is believed to be a professional record, but no one knows for sure. He played for the Mets (1976-81, 1986-89), Yankees (1982), Rangers (1982), Pirates (1983-86) and Blue Jays (1989). He made the 1979 All-Star team, hitting a two-run homer in his lone at-bat.
He served as first base coach for the Yankees from 2000-03, and was hired by the Orioles, who were probably looking for some kind of magic mojo, like Mazzilli knew the secrets to winning baseball games because he'd hung around a bunch of great players and Joe Torre. It's logic akin to seeing Usain Bolt run and wanting to know how he does it, later noticing him eating Cool Ranch Doritos, and saying, "I gotta get me some of those Doritos!"
Best Hitter: As good as Miguel Tejada's 150-RBI first season in Baltimore was, the honor goes to Melvin Mora (.340/.419/.562 in 550 AB).
Best Pitcher: Lopez again, going 14-9 with a 3.59 ERA after starting the year in the bullpen. This would win him the Opening Day nod in 2005, and he would collapse, as he had in 2003.
Other Notes: Angelos went on a spending spree that landed Tejada, Javy Lopez, Rafael Palmeiro and Sidney Ponson, the latter two returning to Baltimore for second go-rounds that both ended in PR disasters. The spending almost netted Vladimir Guerrero, too, but he signed with the Angels. Ha! Sucker! ... Mora and Tejada both won Silver Sluggers, giving Baltimore the most dangerous left-side of the infield in baseball. ... Daniel Cabrera finished third in Rookie of the Year voting, which meant nothing and is still referred to today by sportswriters that haven't watched him pitch. ... The team turned on Mazzilli in a private meeting the next summer, after a momentous collapse.
Distinction: Maryland boy Perlozzo got his chance for a full season as skipper, and brought old friend Leo Mazzone with him
Captain: Sam Perlozzo's story was great. He was from Cumberland, went to GW, played 12 games in the majors, played 1980 with the Yakult Swallows, and then he pretty much started his drive to Orioles manager, which took a good long while but finally happened in mid-2005 when Mazzilli was fired.
It was a 180 from the Mazzilli image. Perlozzo was a hometown guy, this was his team, the team he rooted for, and now he was the manager. He immediately brought some energy, but then the fact that the team stunk weighed everything down, and the 2005 collapse merficully ended. He was named the manager officially in October '05, and went to work on bringing famed Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone, a childhood friend, over to Baltimore.
Perlozzo got his wish, and Mazzone left the Braves for the Orioles. To say the whole experiment went sour in a hurry would be an understatement. Perlozzo was fired on June 18, 2007, and after the season, Mazzone found himself unemployed, too. Perlozzo went to Seattle as a coach, and is now the third base coach for the Phillies.
Best Hitter: Tejada, clearly on the decline.
Best Pitcher: Erik Bedard (15-11, 3.76), who could also be named Only Decent Pitcher.
Other Notes: Javy Lopez spent most of the season crying, then was traded to the Red Sox, who needed a catcher, and he sucked so bad they got rid of him. Despite a couple of comeback attempts, that was it for him. ... Ed Rogers lost a ball in his jersey playing left field. ... The Todd began to lose all credibility. ... Kris Benson happened. ... Mazzone brought in Jim Brower and stuck with him as long as you can possibly stick with a guy whose ERA is juuuust below 14. ... Mazzone later got another old pitcher of his, Russ Ortiz, added to the team. Thanks, Leo. ... Some lady yelled at me because I kept saying Jeff Conine wasn't very good anymore.
Distinction: Dave Trembley managed
Captain: Dave Trembley was the bullpen coach, replaced Perlozzo, and is still the manager today. If recent years are any indication, he should get fired sometime this year.
Trembley managed for 613 years in the minor leagues.
Best Hitter: Aubrey Huff
Best Pitcher: Jeremy Guthrie
All-Stars: George Sherrill
Other Notes: This season, like, just happened. ... Dave Trembley smoked a victory cigar when the Orioles ended a ridiculous Sunday losing streak. ... People stopped being mad at Huff. ... Steve Trachsel hit the old dusty trail.
1. The Dukes of Earl
2. The Bauer-y Boys
3. The Advantageous Appointment of Altobelli
4. The Richards-Harris Express
5. Davey's Goliaths
6. The Oatesimate Warriors
7. Robby's Near Miracles
8. Billy Hitchcock Presents
10. Devil Ray's Team
11. Mazzilli's Mooks
12. Diamond Dave
13. Grover Sings the Blues
14. Sam's Town
15. The Ripken Family
16. Jimmie's Jammers
Each round will be a best-of-7 and I'll start posting some results tomorrow. As for now, this took forever for something as pointless as it is, but I do like pointless junk.
Also for the record, I'm going to insist that the team that wins this is The Greatest Orioles Team of All-Time.