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Making a roster of the best Orioles in recent memory

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The team used to stink and then it got really good. What does a roster for the most recent era in Orioles history look like?

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The return of Nick Markakis to Oriole Park last night has me feeling all kinds of nostalgic for the Orioles of yesteryear. You know the classic names: Felix Pie, Steve Tolleson and, of course, Jake Fox. Ok, maybe those guys aren't quite of the same ilk as Markakis, but still each are memorable in their own way.

It is very likely that once Markakis finishes up his career, in Atlanta or elsewhere, that he will be invited back to Camden Yards to be inducted into the organization's Hall of Fame. Heck, he may have even played well enough in the black and orange to be a bench player on the Orioles all-time roster, or at least an honorable mention.

That got me to thinking about what a roster of Orioles from different seasons would look like. I know, you think you have read this article before. It's the same list of names every time: Ripken, Robinson (x2), Palmer, etc. Instead, my idea is to focus on the here and now.

This roster can only be made up of current active professional baseball players who no longer don the Baltimore uniform. For the sake of expanding the options I will say that the players just have to of had a contract with the organization, not necessarily make it to the big leagues with the Birds in order to qualify.

The objective is to put together the best possible team, not how well the players did while in Charm City. As always, think of the players as they were at the height of their career (whether it was with the O's or not).

Hopefully that makes sense. If not, just keep reading and you should get the hang of it.

OK, first up we have the

Batting order:

Player 162-game career averages
CF Nate McLouth .247/.332/.410, 16 HR, 21 SB, 57 BB, 99 SO
RF Nick Markakis .290/.358/.430, 16 HR, 37 2B, 66 BB, 92 SO
3B Jose Bautista .256/.367/.493, 32 HR, 90 RBI, 91 BB, 117 SO
LF Nelson Cruz .272/.333/.506, 34 HR, 100 RBI, 52 BB, 144 SO
DH Michael Morse .277/.331/.463, 22 HR, 74 RBI, 35 BB, 135 SO
1B Mark Reynolds .229/.324/.453, 31 HR, 87 RBI, 72 BB, 200 SO
2B Justin Turner .289/.352/.426, 9 HR, 52 R, 31 2B, 35 BB, 72 SO
C Nick Hundley .246/.300/.396, 15 HR, 63 RBI, 39 BB, 138 SO
SS Cesar Izturis .254/.293/.322, 14 SB, 55 R, 28 BB, 53 SO

Let's break it down pick-by-pick, position by position:

C Nick Hundley

-If this hypothetical team could play every game at Coors Field then Hundley might hit clean up. The guy is crushing it in Colorado this season. As an Oriole, he was solid and nothing more, but please tell me another catcher that meets the above criteria that is better than Hundley. I'll be waiting.

1B Mark Reynolds

-The free-swinging Reynolds was basically the mascot for the 2012 Orioles. He went all out, all the time and, somehow, it usually worked out well for him. He hit a ton of home runs and also struck out a TON too. But you can't deny that he was fun to watch.

2B Justin Turner

-Turner became an everyday Major League with the Mets a few seasons ago after barely finishing his cup of coffee with the O's. Now with the Dodgers, he is hitting .323 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI. Yeah, that'll work.

3B Jose Bautista

-One of the Orioles ultimate facepalms of failure, but they aren't alone. The strong-armed Dominican bounced around a handful of other teams before finding his groove as a 29-year old with the Blue Jays. Since then, Joey Bats has earned six all-star nods and garnered a few MVP votes.

SS Cesar Izturis

-Izturis is technically not under contract anywhere at the moment, but he has been offered a few minor league deals as far as I can tell. With the glove, he was gifted. With the lumber, he....well, at least he had his glove.

LF Nelson Cruz

-Whoa Nelly, he was fantastic with the O's in 2014 and quickly became one of the most likable guys on the team. His 2015 April with Seattle was off the charts, and even though he has slowed, he is still one of the more feared power hitters in the American Leagues, as he has been for a few years now.

CF Nate McLouth

-Once upon a time, he won a Gold Glove and was named to the NL All-Star team. With the O's he was a little sparkplug that was extremely streaky at the plate while playing mostly in left field. The fact is, someone needed to be in center and McLouth has a skill set that works perfectly there.

RF Nick Markakis

-Oh, the good old Greek. He was as steady as they come. Although he never developed into that franchise-carrying player he was once thought to be, he was still a heck of a player for nearly a decade in B-More. He still owns an offseason home just north of the city in Parkton and, judging by the fans reaction last night, we all still love him.

DH Michael Morse

-Good lord he was awful in that month the Orioles had him. It's a shame because he has hit pretty much everywhere else he has gone. Luckily we base this on career performance or he would be out.

Bench

C Taylor Teagarden

-Once a backup, always a back up. Teagarden was OK in the field and seemed to have a knack for the clutch hit as an Oriole. There isn't much else to say. Like I said ,the Oriole catching options that fit the criteria are few and far between.

OF Jayson Werth

-The O's traded him to the Blue Jays for John Bale. Yeah, I have no clue who that is either. Werth cashed in with the Nationals (he makes $21 million this year) after gaining some MVP buzz. He has been solid, albeit underwhelming in the nation's capital.

UTL Steve Lombardozzi

-We hardly knew ye, Steve. Lombo is a local guy who lacks almost all of the physical attributes associated with being a professional athlete. But he does his best to make up for it in effort and versatility. The guy can play everywhere on the field. Every team needs a utility guy.

INF Robert Andino

-The scrappy Andino is out of affiliated ball, but is still playing professionally. While his numbers were never anything to write home about, he carried a swagger that was vital in both the 2011 and 2012 teams that helped to change the baseball world's perspective on Baltimore's team.

And now...

The Rotation

RHP Jake Arrieta

RHP Jason Hammel

RHP Alfredo Simon

RHP Jeremy Guthrie

LHP Tsuyoshi Wada

Three out of the five arms here play for one team and each is doing well. That is infuriating. Add to it the fact that Arrieta is quickly becoming one of the best pitchers in the National League and it gets me all kinds of mad. I wish that was even a little bit of a joke. In three seasons with Chicago, he has an ERA of 2.73.

Hammel may have been he best pitcher on the O's 2012 wild card team, but his unreliable knee threw his time in Baltimore off course. It's fair to say he revitalized his career with the O's and has continued that success with the Cubs.

Simon went from "closer of the future" with the Orioles to a bonafide ace in Cincinnati. It's clear this season that he prefers the National League, but did well enough with the Reds in 2014 to earn an All-star nod.

Oh, good old Guts. his stunt with the t-shirt during last fall's ALCS ruffled some feathers in Birdland. But let's not forget how solid he was for many years. Sure, he gave up so many home runs that we wanted to collectively punch the television screen, but he played on some BAD teams and was one of the few decent players.

The selection of Wada is more a product of a lack of options more than anything else. Sure, he has been good with the Cubs, but he also has constant injury problems and still has a relatively small sample size.

Bullpen

LHP Andrew Miller (closer)

RHP Koji Uehara (set-up)

RHP Pedro Strop

RHP Francisco Rodriguez

RHP Jim Johnson

RHP LaTroy Hawkins

LHP Troy Patton

The bullpen may be the strongest point of this entire team. It's insane! At one time in each of their careers, the point can easily be made that Miller, Uehara, Rodriguez and Johnson were each the best closer in baseball. The southpaw may currently be the top dog.

Uehara has been so good the entire time he has been in America. Not to mention that he was a fan favorite who also loved the city. He has to be on the "recent all-time team."

Johnson started to lose it a bit during his final year in Baltimore before completely imploding with the Athletics. I'm happy to see him reclaim some of his ability with Atlanta in 2015.

Strop was so fantastic for some stretches as an Oriole, but he was equally as volatile and unpredictable as a pitcher. In other words, he was a Major League relief pitcher.

Patton had some nice, solid and productive years with the O's. Of course, he had the suspension and was dealt to San Diego for Hundley. Hawkins is there just for the numbers, though the veteran has always been steady.

Conclusion

It's a mixed bag of players. there are some perenial All-Stars as well as some just terrible players. That's what you get in an organization that transitioned from years and years of losing to a perennial playoff contender.

So, I pose the question to you! Who would you put on the all-time team for the O's in recent memory? Make a comment down below or tweet me @_TyYoung. Thanks for reading!