#30 - Miguel Tejada (2004-2007, 2010)
Miguel Tejada is a baseball player that many Orioles fans have mixed feelings about. He had a lot of controversy swirling around him towards the end of his time in Baltimore, and he left a lot of fans with a bad taste in their mouth regarding his tenure as a Baltimore Oriole. Miggi may have been a bit of prima donna, and he might have done steroids, it did turn out that he was lying about his age, and maybe possibly he gave Rafael Palmeiro some tainted B-12 that ruined Palmeiro's life. But he was also a heck of a baseball player, and that's (mostly) what I want to focus on in this article.
The off season before 2004 was pretty much the opposite of the off season before 2014. While we sit and wait on the Orioles to do something, anything, before the 2014 season starts, 2004 was a regular shopping spree. The Orioles signed Tejada, one of the best players in baseball at the time, along with Javy Lopez. They brought Palmeiro back for his second go-round as an Oriole, and did the same with Sidney Ponson. In retrospect, most of those moves were not good for the franchise. But if the Orioles had regrets about most of those moves, it's hard to argue with the production they got from Tejada.
Must Read Miguel
In his first season with the Orioles, Tejada hit .311/.360/.534 with an OPS+ of 131. He put up a bWAR of 7.4, the highest mark of his career, and he knocked in a franchise-high 150 runs. He was just an exciting player to watch. His enthusiasm was infectious and he quickly became a fan favorite. He didn't put up quite as gaudy numbers in 2005 and 2006, but he still played at an all-star level. From 2004-2006 Tejada didn't miss a game, but in 2007 he broke his wrist and missed about a month of playing time. His numbers in 2007 weren't bad, but they weren't Tejada-esque either. He ended the season with an OPS+ of 109, and his bWAR of 2.3 was his lowest since 1998 with the Athletics.
One of the things I always remember about Miggi was the way he celebrated. He was always looking into the dugout after a big hit, like he wanted to share it with all of his teammates. That's the way I try to think of him when I remember him as an Oriole, because the end of his Orioles career wasn't quite as fun.
It's no secret that the Orioles of the mid-2000s were dysfunctional. And while I never heard of any teammate (other than Palmeiro, of course) having a problem with Tejada, it was the belief of some that Tejada contributed to the dysfunction. When new GM Andy MacPhail took over in 2007, he needed to clean house and he also needed to make some trades to try and bring back young players who could help the team in the future. And so in December of 2007, Tejada was traded to the Houston Astros for Luke Scott, Troy Patton, Dennis Sarfate, Matt Albers, and Mike Costanzo. Other than Constanzo, each contributed something to the Orioles. Only Patton remains on the team.
I wish that was the end of Miguel Tejada's time with the Orioles. He had three outstanding years and one decent but injury-filled year before his trade, and even though he had worn out his welcome by the end of 2007, he was still a star Oriole, one of the few players worth watching in the mid-2000s. But that's not the end of his time in Baltimore.
After his trade to Houston, Tejada was named in the Mitchell Report. It wasn't the first time steroids had been linked to him. He then pleaded guilty to perjury regarding his testimony to Congress. After that it was discovered that he lied on his birth certificate and was actually two years older than he'd always said. It was rough year for him, I'd say.
In January 2010, the Orioles announced that they had re-signed Miguel Tejada. The signing became public knowledge during FanFest, and I still remembered the disbelief I felt. I didn't want him back, and it turned out I shouldn't have. He played 90 games at third base for the Orioles and he was thoroughly mediocre. Perhaps worse than mediocre. He was traded to the Padres in July for Wynn Pelzer, who is currently out of baseball. After that, Tejada bounced around to a few more teams, including one more time in the Orioles system on a minor-league deal. He spent 2012 with the Royals as a infield utility guy, but was suspended for 105 games in August for repeated use of Adderall. He is not currently signed with any major-league team.
It's impossible to talk about Tejada's career without also talking about the troubles he has faced. He is far from the perfect person, and he's found himself in many self-made debacles. But even with all of the noise, he still ranks as one of the best Orioles ever. From 2004-2007 he hit .311/.362/.501 with 102 HR and 142 2B. He did it while playing the toughest position in the infield, and he racked up bWAR of 20.1. He was an All Star in 2004, 2005, and 2006, and he was awarded the Silver Slugger in '04 and '05. He got MVP votes in each of his first three years with the O's. For all of those reasons, he is our 30th best Oriole of all time.