BaltimoreBaseball.com Orioles’ all-time team: the pitchers
In January 2020, we released the Team of All Time Orioles, with help from our readers. I thought it would be fun to take another look. Today we will reveal the 10 pitchers to you.
I was overwhelmed by the knowledge of our readers, especially those who named players from the 50s, 60s and 70s, before I came to Baltimore.
Most of the suggestions forced me to consider players I hadn’t thought of and created more difficult decisions.
One caveat: many readers chose five starters and five lifters. This is not what I am going to do. It’s more like an all-star team with the top 10 pitchers, including three relievers.
Once again, thank you for your contribution. I couldn’t have done it without you.
The starting pitchers
Jim Palmer, Mike Mussina, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Mike Flanagan, Scott McGregor, Milt Pappas.
Palmer is the easier choice – the one player who was a member of each of the winning Orioles World Series teams.
Another easy choice is Mussina, whose career winning record and winning percentages are similar to Palmer’s but has a higher ERA.
Most of McNally’s success came before the designated hitter. Like Palmer, he pitched at Memorial Stadium, not Camden Yards. McNally won 20 games from 1968 to 1971 and won 181 games with 33 shutouts.
Cuellar’s career stats are almost identical to McNally’s, and he’s won 143 games in eight seasons. He had three straight 20-game seasons from 1969 to 1971. Unlike McNally, who only played briefly for Montreal, Cuellar had 42 wins with Houston and St. Louis.
Flanagan, like McNally and Cuellar, was a southpaw and he won 141 two-stint games with the Orioles. In 1979, Flanagan won 23 games as the Orioles moved closer to winning another World Series title. In 1991, Flanagan threw the last throw for the Orioles in the last game at Memorial Stadium. He ended his career as a reliever.
Like the other five starters, McGregor has won 20 games. In 1980, McGregor nearly threw the Orioles into the playoffs, but in the pre-Wild Card days, their 100 wins weren’t good enough. McGregor won the last game of the Orioles World Series in 1983. He won 138 games for the Orioles, the only major league team he played for.
Pappas has been unfairly maligned over the years for being the Oriole sent to Cincinnati with pitcher Jack Baldschun and outfielder Dick Simpson for Frank Robinson in December 1965. But Pappas won 110 games for the Orioles in a career that started in 1957. Overall, Pappas had 220 wins and stats similar to Hall of Famer Don Drysdale. Pappas had a 3.24 ERA as an Oriole, better than Flanagan, McGregor and Mussina, who pitched on the hitter-friendly Camden Yards.
Also Considered: Mike Boddicker, Steve Barber
Boddicker won the last 20 games for the Orioles in 1984 and was a key member of the World Series winners in 1983, but only earned 79 victories for the Orioles. Although Oriole fans will fondly remember him, he enjoyed three excellent seasons with Boston after being traded there in July 1988 to Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling.
Barber had 95 wins from 1960 to 1967 and won 20 games in 1963, the first Orioles pitcher to do so.
Lifters: Zack Britton, Gregg Olson, Dick Hall
Britton might have had the best season of any reliever when he converted all 47 save opportunities in 2016. He allowed just four earned runs and had a 0.54 ERA.
Olson holds the team record with 160 saves in his six-year career. He only allowed 10 home runs in 350 innings. In 1989, he won the American League Rookie of the Year award, the last Oriole to do so.
Choosing Hall was the hardest part, partly because I wasn’t there to see his career with my own eyes, but also because there were plenty of other worthy relievers to consider. Hall pitched 770 innings during a nine-year career with the Orioles.
He was arguably the most versatile pitcher in team history. He started 22 games but finished 237. His WHIP of 1.005 was the best in Orioles history and he had a 2.89 ERA. He walked just 1.5 batters per nine innings.
Also Considered: Jim Johnson, Tippy Martinez, Darren O’Day, Eddie Watt, Pete Richert, Stu Miller
Johnson made 101 saves in 2012 and 2013, but Britton, Olson and Hall have had stronger Oriole careers.
Martinez is fondly remembered for his unusually long 11 years with the Orioles for a reliever, but his 3.46 ERA and 1.370 WHIP leave him short.
O’Day had a fantastic 2.40 ERA and 0.994 ERA, but he pitched about half of Hall’s innings.
I never thought of Watt and Richert until readers mentioned them.
From 1967 to 1972, Watt had an ERA of 2.27 or less five times, but he is handicapped by his time. In 1969, Watt had a 1.65 ERA and 16 saves, but was used in 56 games. That year, the Oriole starters pitched 50 full games, and the relievers weren’t as valuable as they are in contemporary play.
It’s a similar story with Richert, who had a 2.83 ERA in five years with the Orioles. He wasn’t with the team long enough or used often enough to make the list.
Miller made 99 saves and a 2.37 ERA in five seasons from 1963 to 1967, but the others were more dominant.
Tomorrow: We will reveal the 16 position players.