Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Best of the Best: Second Basemen

With the off-season being at an essential standstill for the Orioles as far as the news goes, I thought I would bring you, the reader, a weekly list of the top five Orioles of all time for each position (second base, catcher, etc). This past week in the ranking of the best Orioles’ first basemen, Eddie Murray took home the crowd. This week I will be ranking the player to the right of the first baseman: Second base.

The second baseman is another position that requires quick reflexes that needs to be able to get rid of the ball in a hurry. He also must have great range due to the amount of the infield that he covers. The second baseman is a player who is most often right-handed. Being right-handed allows the second baseman to turn two with much more ease. Along with his infield responsibilities, he is the cutoff man for the right fielder as well. With all of these, he holds importance on defense. Second basemen can be good hitters as well.

The Orioles have not had an abundance of great second basemen in the team’s history, although they have had many good ones. This list is about differentiating who was great from who was good.

This list is based purely on the player’s statistics in seven categories while said player was with the Orioles organization. The seven categories I will be judging them in are batting average, fielding percentage (at second base), games played (at second base), All Star games (if applicable), Gold Gloves (if applicable), RBIs, and home runs. Here we go!

5. Billy Ripken

The brother of Orioles great, Cal, held his own during his time in Baltimore. Although he never received an award for his contributions made to the team, Billy Ripken was a decent player for the O’s. He spent seven years with the team. In that time he batted an “okay” .243 BA.

Ripken did make history in his first major league game on July 11, 1987. It was the first time in major league history that a father managed his two sons on the same team.

Even though he only hit 15 homeruns as an Oriole, he did bat in 180 runs as well as 100 doubles.

His fielding was definitely his strong point. His .985 fielding percentage proves this fact. He helped the ’89 “Why Not?” Orioles with their miraculous season.

Unfortunately for Ripken, he did not have the type of career in Baltimore that his brother had. He was an average ball player and I think the bottom of this list is the right place for him.

4. Rich Dauer

Rich Dauer played his entire career in a Baltimore uniform. In these ten years, Dauer hit a slightly better average than did Ripken; reason being why Dauer is above Ripken on this list.

He batted a lifetime .257/.310/.343. Along with those numbers, Dauer hit 43 homeruns and 372 RBIs.

Dauer was another Oriole second baseman that never received an award for his individual efforts. However, he did win a World Series with his fellow Baltimore teammates in 1983.

In the ’83 Series, Dauer went unnoticed as he only got four hits in 19 plate appearances.

He was another player who was a somewhat better fielder than hitter, which is common with the second base position. He maintained a .988 fielding percentage through an entire decade as an Oriole. Dauer was a sort of utility player, playing a good amount of time over at third base as well.

Anytime you are a part of a World Series team, your name will be remembered. That is the case with Dauer. This coupled with his good batting average and fielding percentage earns him the number four spot on this list.

 3. Bobby Grich

Bobby Grich played seven seasons in an Orioles uniform. He did not see too much playing time in his first two years with the time as he had to take a backseat to a player that will be seen further down on this list. This gave him more of a utility role on the ball club, playing first base and shortstop.

Once he was able to see a lot of playing time at second, the awards followed. He was a three time All Star as well as a four time Gold Glove Award winner.

Grich’s name goes unnoticed by many Orioles fans, including myself. It is not a household name fans are used to hearing. People should really research this player because his stats are impressive. He went .262/.372/.405 lifetime as an Oriole. Unfortunately, Baltimore lost Grich to free agency where he signed with the Angels. Once he left the O’s, he became one of the best second basemen to ever play the game of baseball. If only Grich stayed with the Orioles, I have full confidence he would be at the top of this list.

2. Roberto Alomar

Even though his time in Baltimore was short, Roberto Alomar made the most of his three years in Charm City. Alomar delivered an “All Star” performance every year making the American League All Star team each year with the Orioles. He was a tremendous fielder, sporting a .986 fielding percentage and winning two Gold Glove Awards in Baltimore.

He had incredible range on the field, making impossible plays on the ball possible. He also was an accomplished batter as well. In his three years in Baltimore  he put up a .312 BA, a .382 OBP, and a .480 SLG. He, in fact, has the highest career batting average in Baltimore Orioles’ history. Alomar hit his fair share of balls onto Eutaw Street, hitting 50 round trippers with the O’s.

Alomar’s career reached its pinnacle when he got inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame a few years ago in 2011. Throughout his career, Alomar played for seven different ball clubs. I am sure Baltimore wish they had him for more than just three years. And if Alomar would have stayed with the Orioles for a longer time, there is no question that Alomar would be the greatest second baseman the Orioles have seen to date.

1. Davey Johnson

In today’s world, Davey Johnson is thought of as the recently retired Nationals manager. However, in the 1960s and early 1970s, Johnson was the Baltimore Orioles second baseman. He helped the Orioles win their first two World Series in franchise history (1966 and 1970). Those teams back in the day had Orioles greats like Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, and Boog Powell. It is because of these players that Johnson’s name gets lost in the shuffle when people think back to these championship teams. I am here to tell everyone this Florida native could play some ball.

He started off his career with a bang in 1965. Batting .257 with 129 hits and 20 of them being doubles, Johnson finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.

He then proceeded to play another seven years with the Orioles. During his time here, Johnson batted .259 and had a .330 OBP. He also racked up 391 RBIs and 904 hits in the orange and black. The three time Gold Glove winner maintained a .985 fielding percentage at second base as an Oriole.

As a three-time All Star, Johnson made his presence known while he was an Oriole. On baseball’s biggest showcase, the World Series, Johnson batted .286 during the ’66 Series and .313 during the ’70 Series. Johnson proved he can come through in the big games.

Johnson showed in his eight years with the O’s that he was an outstanding fielder and a pretty solid hitter as well. And for this he is the “Best of the Best” for second basemen.

 

Well that is the list. I want to make a note that Brian Roberts would be in this list, but since he admitted to using steroids in 2003, he was ineligible for this list. Any player found guilty of using PEDs will not be eligible for these lists. I’d like to hear your feedback below. Anyone you think I left out or if the order should be different, just leave a comment. Next Tuesday, I will be doing another “Best of the Best.” You have the decision of what position I should write about next, comment below and I will pick the most popular.

 

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Brian Roberts Davey Johnson Roberto Alomar

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