In honor of the All-Star game being played this evening, I thought I’d go through and pick out the Orioles All-Stars. Just using first-half data would be a little tricky – and it’s debatable if that is even the sole manner by which All-Stars should be selected – so this is basically the top seasons at each position for the team. I have previously looked at the top Orioles overall (well, from 1955, since that was as far back as Chone Smith had developed his Wins Above Replacement database at the time), and this will be in a similar vein – great players tend to have great seasons.
C: This is a really easy one for the starting spot, with a fight for second place.
Chris Hoiles, 1993, 7.2 Wins Above Replacement. Hoiles had a great offensive year for any play, hitting .310/.416/.585, (.433 wOBA) with 29 HR. Add to that his +6 runs behind the plate, including catching 41% of opposing basestealers, and this monster season not only locks down his position on the O’s All-Star team but helps cement his place as the top catcher in O’s history. Keep in mind also that Hoiles only had 503 plate appearances in ’93 – it makes the whole thing even more impressive. Hoiles wasn’t selected to the 1993 All-Star game, even though it was played in Baltimore.
Javy Lopez, 2004, 4.5 WAR. This was Lopez’s first year with the Birds, and though it pailed in comparison to his .328/.378/.687, 43 HR season the previous year with Atlanta, it was still a very solid .316/.370/.503, (.373 wOBA) 23 HR performance. Lopez had a fuller season with 638 plate appearances, though he wasn’t selected to the real All-Star game either.
Mickey Tettleton, 1989, 4.5 WAR. Like Hoiles, Mickey didn’t get a full season, putting in only 489 plate appearance – and a good portion of them were as a DH. His .258/.369/.509, (.388 wOBA) 26 HR line was short on average but he clearly made up for it otherwise. He was a real All-Star in ’89, and also won the Silver Slugger award.
1B: There are several very impressive seasons to pick from, but it’s a clear choice for the top spot(s).
George Sisler, 1920, 9.2 WAR. Ichiro has recently broken it, but this is the season in which Sisler set the record for hits with 257. He hit .407/.449/.632, (.504 wOBA) overall, with career highs in doubles (49), triples (18), and home runs (19), and was a plus in the field (+6 runs) and on the bases (+6 runs). He also won the batting title.
George Sisler, 1922, 8.8 WAR. Only had 246 hits in ’22, but with a .420/.467/.594, (.488 wOBA) line and a career high (and league leading) 51 stolen bases (he had 42 in ’20 – the game was just different back then). Another batting title, and this time he picked up an MVP award.
Jim Gentile, 1961, 7.2 WAR. I guess given the nature of this exercise it’s entirely possible for Sisler to back up the younger version of himself, but if we want to be a little less silly we can go with the top non-Sisler season. That would be Gentile in ’61 with his .302/.423/.646, (.454 wOBA) line and 46 HR. He made it to the All-Star game that year, and came in third in MVP voting.
Honorable mention to Eddie Murray, with his back-to-back great seasons in ’83 (6.9 WAR) and ’84 (6.8 WAR).
2B: One guy dominated this position so thoroughly that it’s kind of absurd. The top four second-base seasons for the O’s are:
Bobby Grich, 1973, 7.3 WAR, .251/.373/.387, (.352 wOBA) with +29 (!) defense
Bobby Grich, 1974, 6.7 WAR, .263/.376/.431, (.369 wOBA) with +8 defense
Bobby Grich, 1975, 6.7 WAR, .260/.389/.399, (.364 wOBA) with +17 defense and
Bobby Grich, 1976, 5.5 WAR, .266/.373/.417, (.370 wOBA) with only +1 defense
Those batting lines don’t look that impressive, but compared to the league they are quite good (OPS+ of 116, 135, 130, 138). There’s a reason we won a Gold Glove each year, and was named to the All-Star team in ’73 and ’75.
The top non-Grich season was Roberto Alomar in 1996 (5.2 WAR) with his .328/.411/.527, (.402 wOBA) line.
3B: Not a difficult guess, with one guy being clearly superior.
Brooks Robinson, 1964, 8.1 WAR. In the best offensive season of his career, Brooks hit .317/.368/.521, (.385 wOBA) with 28 HR and a league leading 118 RBI. Add in the +17 defense and it’s easy to see why he got an All-Star selection, a Gold Glove, and an MVP award. Not bad.
Brooks Robinson, 1968, 7.2 WAR. Only hit .253/.304/.416, (.332 wOBA) but added +33 (!!) run defense. All-Star. Gold Glove.
Brooks Robinson, 1967, 7.1 WAR. Hit .269/.328/.434, (.337 wOBA) with +32 (!!) run defense. All-Star. Gold Glove.
Top non-Brooks guy season Doug DeCinces, 1978, 6.8 WAR. Hit .286/.346/.526, (.385 wOBA) with 28 HR and added some nice +11 defense.
SS: Number one, of course, is Deivi Cruz, for his outstanding .250/.269/.378 line in 2003. Then after that there’s some other guy who may have been OK:
Cal Ripken, 1991, 11.0 WAR, .323/.374/.566, (.407 wOBA) with 34 HR and +23 defense. Only season on the list to sweep the awards, with the All-Star game selection, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and MVP awards.
Cal Ripken, 1984, 9.2 WAR, .304/.374/.510, (.393 wOBA) with 27 HR and +23 defense again. Was only 27th in MVP voting, though he made the All-Star team and won a Silver Slugger award.
Cal Ripken, 1983, 8.3 WAR, .318/.371/.517, (.389 wOBA) with 27 HR and +11 defense. Led the league in games (duh), runs (121), hits (211 – including a leading 76 of the extra-base variety), and doubles (47). All-Star, Silver Slugger, and MVP.
Cal Ripken, 1990, 7.0 WAR, only .250/.341/.415, (.332 wOBA) but with +22 defense.
Top non-Cal season was Miguel Tejada, 2004, 7.0 WAR. He hit .311/.360/.534, (.376 wOBA) in his first year as a Bird, with 34 HR and a league leading 150 RBI. He was selected to the All-Star team, and won the Silver Slugger.
OF: George Stone, 1906, 9.8 WAR. Hit .358/.417/.501, (.442 wOBA) which led the league in all three categories. Had never heard of him before, but… yowza.
Frank Robinson, 1966, 8.3 WAR. Won the triple crown (and the MVP award), hitting.316/.410/.637, (.447 wOBA) with 49 HR, 122 RBI, and 122 runs scored. He made the All-Star team in what was the greatest offensive season (in total contributions) in Orioles history.
Heinie Manush, 1928, 7.5 WAR. In his first year with the Orioles after going over to St. Louis from Detroit, he hit .378/.414/.575, (.446 wOBA) and led the league with 241 hits and 47 doubles.
Frank Robinson, 1969, 7.4 WAR. Only hit .308/.415/.540, (.426 wOBA) with 32 HR but actually added plus defense (+8). Made the All-Star team again, though only finished 3rd in MVP voting.
Ken Williams, 1922, 7.3 WAR. Hit .332/.413/.627, (.463 wOBA) and led the league in HR (39) and RBI (155) while adding +8 defense.
Paul Blair, 1967, 6.7 WAR. Hit .293/.353/.446, (.356 wOBA) with +22 run defense that resulted in a Gold Glove.
Brady Anderson, 1996, 6.6 WAR. 50 home runs. 50. He hit .297/.396/.637, (.435 wOBA) and was selected to the All-Star team, in a season that will be remembered for a long time. 50!
So there are your position players. The line-up would probably shake out something like this:
George Sisler, 1B
Heinie Manush, CF
George Stone, LF
Frank Robinson, RF
Cal Ripken, 3B
Chris Hoiles, C
Brooks Robinson, 3B
Bobby Grich, 2B
You could DH Jim Gentile or Ken Williams I guess, or have Frank Robinson 66′ DH and Frank Robinson ’69 play RF. [Edit: Or DH Sisler, duh. Man could that guy hit.]
P: It’s a pitching staff filled with starters (which makes a lot of sense, since starters are betters than relievers in general). Jim Palmer gets the start and will go a couple of innings. Mike Mussina’s up next, and then Hoyt Wilhelm makes an appearance in the middle innings to mess the other team up with his knuckler before we go back to Palmer for a couple more. Urban Shocker would come out of the pen as a set-up guy with Erik Bedard taking the hill if a lefty is needed. Then Palmer comes out for a third time to finish off the game.
Jim Palmer, 1977, 7.9 WAR, league leading 20 wins, 2.91 ERA (132 ERA+), made the All-Star team and won a Gold Glove.
Jim Palmer, 1975, 7.6 WAR, led league in wins (23), ERA (2.09), ERA+ (169), and shutouts (10). Made the All-Star squad and won the Cy Young award.
Mike Mussina, 1992, 7.4 WAR. In his first full season he went 18-5 with a 2.54 ERA (157 ERA+). He finished fourth in Cy Young voting and made his first All-Star game.
Hoyt Wilhelm, 1959, 7.4 WAR, 15-11 with a 2.19 ERA (173 ERA+) (both of which led the league). He made the All-Star team in the only year in which he was primarily a starter.
Urban Shocker, 1921, 6.6 WAR, league leading 27 wins and a 3.55 ERA (127 ERA+)
Urban Shocker, 1922, 6.5 WAR, 24-17 with a 2.97 ERA (138 ERA+), and the league lead in K’s (149) and K/BB ratio (2.61)
Jim Palmer, 1970, 6.4 WAR, 21-10, 2.71 ERA (134 ERA+), and made the All-Star team.
Jim Palmer, 1976, 6.4 WAR, league leading 22 wins, 2.51 ERA (130 ERA+), a Gold Glove, and another Cy.
Jim Palmer, 1973, 6.1 WAR, 22-9, league leading ERA of 2.40, and won his first Cy Young.
Jim Palmer, 1978, 6.1 WAR, 21-12, 2.46 ERA (143 ERA+), All-Star appearance and another Gold Glove.
Erik Bedard, 2007, 6.0 WAR, 13-5 with a 3.16 ERA (146 ERA+) and a league leading 10.9 K/9.
So there you have it. Obviously, Earl Weaver would manage. No plan so far on building the time-machine required to get this team put together, and no word yet on whether or not such any hypothetical game in which this hypothetical team would participate would, in fact, “count”.