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Saturday, August 24, 2013

All Time All Stars - Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Browns

This is part of an on-going series in which I attempt to update the rosters from Sports Illustrated's All Time All Stars board game created in 1973.  My intention is to update the game so I can incorporate modern day stars with the All Time All Stars.
Imagine having these two guys on the left-hand side
of your infield. Best combination ever? 

The Baltimore Orioles rank eighth in wins out of the American League teams.  That might seem pretty good until you consider they are one of the eight original franchises dating back to their days in St. Louis.  Unable to find much success in The Gateway to the West and tired of sharing Sportsman Park with the Cardinals, the franchise packed up and moved east. In Baltimore they've won three championships and fielded many great players.  It's the first 53 years of their history that set them back. The 1973 All Time roster wasn't so bad but it lacked superstar power. Let's go through their greatest players and update their roster.

Again, a reminder of the guidelines for choosing players:
  • Each team must be composed of fifteen (15) position players and ten (10) pitchers.
  • At least one pitcher must be a relief pitcher
  • Each position must have at least two players on the roster who can capably fill it.  Think of this as having a starter and a backup. 
  • At least one player chosen to represent a position must have played that position as their primary defensive position.  For instance, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth cannot be chosen as the only two representatives at first base since neither played there for the majority of their career.
  • Players must have been active no earlier than 1901.  I chose 1901 since that was the first year of the American League.  We need a cutoff at some point and this seemed logical to me. If a player accumulated stats prior to 1901 (Cy Young for instance) these stats will be disregarded.
  • To be eligible for a position a player must have played one full season as a starter there or 10% of his career games.  The same goes for starting and relieving.
  • The team a player represents should be the one that makes the most sense for that player. For instance, Alex Rodriguez has played for three teams but he's played 300 more games as a Yankee than a Mariner. He won an MVP as a Yankee and has more career WAR as a Yankee.  Therefore, he's going to be on the Yankee roster.
  • Batter handedness should not impact the players chosen.
Here we go...

Original Catchers: Gus Triandos, Hank Severeid
Triandos is an interesting story. He was blocked by Yogi Berra for a few years before he finally got traded to Baltimore where he promptly became the second best catcher in the A.L.  He was a poor defender and so slow that it was difficult for him to hit for average but he had power, topping out at 30 home runs in 1958.  Hank Severeid was Triandos' opposite.  Never hitting for power, Severeid hit over .300 from 1921-1925 and grades out as a plus defender. Neither one of these two will start for the All Time All Stars but either would be a fine backup.
Potential newcomers: Rick Dempsey, Chris Hoiles, Matt Wieters
You might not realize it at first glance, but Dempsey was a heck of a catcher. He only hit .233 for his career but the man could play defense. He learned how to coax a walk and from what I've read was a very alert base runner.  Earl Weaver loved him to death which means something in my book.  Chris Hoiles could hit a baseball.  Chris Hoiles could not stay on the field. That's his career in a nutshell, where over 8 full seasons he hit .262/.366/.467 with 151 home runs but only played in 865 games. It seems he's been forgotten as one of the best catchers of the '90s, shoot, even Bill James forgot about him in his latest Historical Abstract. Wieters has an excellent shot to make this team one day.

Original First Basemen: George Sisler, Boog Powell, Marty McManus, Gus Triandos, Baby Doll Jacobson
George Sisler is likely one of the most overrated players in history.  This is not meant to take away from his impressive accomplishments but rather to put a bit of perspective on them. The man held the single season hit record until Ichiro broke it, hit .400 twice, and led the league in stolen bases four times. He was a great player, no doubt, but we must remember the era in which he played to put these numbers in their proper context.  Powell was a hulking first baseman who had good power and walked a decent amount. He ranks third in Orioles history in career home runs with 303.  The other three in this group were not primary first basemen and will be dicussed later.
Potential newcomers: Eddie Murray
Eddie Murray is one of the five greatest switch hitters of all time.  He hit over 500 home runs and had over 3000 career hits.  He just never seemed like a great player because he was consistently good. I guess you can say his consistency caused him to be overlooked. He made the Hall of Fame in 2003.

Original Second basemen: Marty McManus, Davey Johnson
Marty McManus was a utility type infielder who played most of his games at second base.  He was just above league average as a hitter but walked a fair amount to buoy is value. Dave Johnson was a pretty decent player whose career is highlighted by one fluke season in which he hit 43 home runs for Atlanta. He never scored 100 runs or drove in 100 but in his peak he'd hit .280 with a .340 on-base percentage.
Potential newcomers: Brian Roberts, Del Pratt
Roberts is on the downside of his career now but for the majority of his career he was a guy who would hit 40+ doubles and steal 30 bases.  In fact he's hit 50 doubles twice and stolen 50 bases once. He has accumulated 28.2 career WAR.  Del Pratt was not on the original roster and I cannot figure out why he was omitted. Maybe it was just an oversight.  He was not a big power hitter but had good speed and hit over .300 six times. He led he league in RBI in 1916 and stole 247 bases. He also grades out as a good defender on baseball-reference.

Original Shortstops: Vern Stephens, Bobby Wallace
Stephens split the majority of his career between St. Louis and Boston before finishing his career in Baltimore.  Stephens was one of the big RBI guys of his era, compiling four seasons of over 100 including 159 in 1949.  He led the league in home runs once and hit as many as 39 in one season.  Bobby Wallace began his career in 1894 but came to the Browns in 1902 and spent 15 years with the club. Known for his excellent defense, Wallace also possessed some pop as he hit 15 triples in 1901. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953.
Potential newcomers: Mark Belanger, Cal Ripken, Jr., Mike Bordick
Belanger is the epitome of the all glove no hit shortstop. His defense was clearly special and he was rewarded by winning eight Gold Gloves. His career batting line is .228/.300/.280.  What is there to say about Ripken that we don't already know? He won two MVP awards and led the league in hits, doubles, total bases, and and runs scored once each. He was also won two Gold Gloves.  Bordick was a nice player who hit .300 his first season in the majors (though never again) and strangely hit 20 home runs in 2000.  He probably should have won a couple of Gold Gloves in there somewhere too.

Original Third Basemen: Brooks Robinson, Harlond Clift, Vern Stephens, Bobby Wallace
This position is set in stone, no doubt.  Brooks Robinson is easily one of the ten greatest third basemen of all time.  His defense set the standard at the position and he was no slouch with the bat either. That career .267 batting average is misleading - thank you 1960s.  Robinson won 16 Gold Gloves and hit 268 home runs in his career. Harlond Clift played in the 1930s and '40s causing his accomplishments to fade away more than they perhaps should.  An on-base machine, Clift had five seasons with an on-base percentage over .400 and retired with a mark of .390.  He also hit 34 home runs one season.
Potential newcomers: Melvin Mora, Manny Machado
Mora had some really impressive seasons in the middle of his career but that peak was bookended by stretches where he was just a tick above average.  Capable of playing several positions, Mora solidified the hot corner after Ripken retired and in 2004 led the American League with a .419 on-base percentage.  Machado may be one of the greats when it's all said it done but let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

Original Center Fielders: Paul Blair, Burt Shotton, Jack Tobin, Baby Doll Jacobson, Sammy West
Paul Blair is regarded as one of the greatest defensive outfielders of all time as he won seven Gold Gloves as evidence.  In 1967 and 1969 Blair was one of the best player in the American League and then in 1970 he got hit by a pitch in the face and  he was never quite the same.  Shotton was a Punch and Judy hitter who liked to run - a lot.  Despite getting on base over 250 times a year he only scored 100 runs once partly because he averaged more than 25 caught stealings per season. Jacobson was arguably the best outfielder in franchise history while in St. Louis.  He's a career .311 hitter with lots of doubles, Baby Doll twice finished in the top 10 in MVP voting.  Sam West was an excellent center fielder who could hit for average.  He didn't hit for much power or steal many bases and finished just shy of a career .300 batting average.
Potential newcomers: Brady Anderson, Adam Jones
Brady Anderson is one of only two players to hit 50 home runs and steal 50 bases in a season in their career (Bonds).  His 50 home run season remains one of the flukiest of all time as he never had hit more than 21 before and never hit more than 24 after.  A very good leadoff man, Brady could get on base and score more than 100 runs four times.  Adam Jones is just shy of consideration for the team. This is his sixth season in Baltimore and he's improved his hitting each year. Looks poised to set a career high in home runs for the fourth straight year.  His defense is overrated though.

Original Corner Outfielders: Ken Williams, Ken Singleton, Jack Tobin, Sammy West, Burt Shotton
Williams was a big time power hitter for the team in the 1920s hitting as many as 39 home runs.  For about five or six seasons he was one of the best players in baseball.  Ken Singleton was very good player for the Orioles in the '70s.  Consistently putting up close to 5.0 WAR a year, Williams was a jack of all trades but not quite a superstar.  Jack Tobin is another guy who if you don't look closely you will be fooled by the stats.  He was good for 200 hits a year but nearly all of those were little dinks or bunts.  Of his 1904 career hits 1449 were singles. Think Juan Pierre.
Potential newcomers: Don Buford, Nick Markakis
Buford is severely underrated due to the era in which he played and from his shorter career. He excelled in getting on base, could play the infield, and had medium power. Gets my vote for the best outfielder in team history not named Robinson.  Markakis looked like a promising player several years ago but has been unable to maintain his power. He's still good for .280 with nearly 40 doubles and excellent defense in right field.

Really, this team falls in place rather easily.  There's been some nice upgrades in Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, and to a lesser extent Dempsey.  Second base is a question mark as is backup catcher. I'll leave those two for a vote.

Original Browns/Orioles New Browns/Orioles
Pos Player Alt Pos. Pos Player Alt Pos.
C Hank Severeid C Rick Dempsey  
C Gus Triandos 1B    
1B George Sisler 1B Eddie Murray  
1B Boog Powell 1B George Sisler  
2B Davey Johnson 1B Boog Powell OF
2B Marty McManus 3B/1B 2B

3B Brooks Robinson 3B Brooks Robinson  
3B Harlond Clift 3B Harlond Clift  
SS Bobby Wallace 3B SS Cal Ripken 3B
SS Vern Stephens 3B SS Vern Stephens 3B
OF Ken Williams OF Ken Williams CF
OF Sammy West CF OF Ken Singleton  
OF Burt Shotton CF OF Don Buford 2B/3B
OF Jack Tobin CF CF Brady Anderson OF
CF Paul Blair OF CF Paul Blair  
CF Baby Doll Jacobson OF/1B      

  • Hank Severeid - Could hit for average but had no power. Good defensive player.
  • Gus Triandos - Very good power hitter especially for a catcher but a below average runner and defender.
  • Chris Hoiles - Very good hitter who was overshadowed by Piazza and Pudge Rodriguez. Had trouble staying healthy causing his counting stats to suffer.
  • Del Pratt - Good hitting second baseman and very good defender. Even Bill James says he's hard to accurately peg how good a player he was due to the terrible teams he played for.
  • Brian Roberts - Doubles hitting machine. Average defender and good baserunner
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