20 in 20: Greatest Orioles not named Ripken (Pt. 1)
In honor of Opening Day being only one week away (YAY!) and Oriole Park at Camden Yards turning the big 2-0, I’m compiling a list of 20 of the greatest Orioles players (not named Cal) to play during the Camden Yards-era. I’m not claiming that this list has any rhyme or reason to it; it’s just this humble girl’s opinion. We’ll be breaking it down to four posts leading up to Opening Day. So without further ado here are the first five (well, last five since it’s a countdown):
20) Chris Hoiles
To me, Hoiles is one of those great players that no one considers a great player. When you talk about great catchers, his name never comes up. He had the offensive power and his fielding was top-notch during his 10-year tenure with the Birds. The man hit two grand slams in one game and is the only player in MLB history to hit a 2-out, full count, bottom of the 9th, down by 3 runs grand slam: the ultimate grand slam. (I still remember that game and jumping up and down in my family room like a mad person).
19) Erik Bedard
I know he’s become a bit of a joke for most O’s fan, but the guy’s best years were with the Orioles. He is tied for the Orioles record for most strikeouts in a game with 15, and in 2007, broke the Orioles single-season record for strikeouts with 221. Of course, his constant stints on the DL didn’t help him win over any fans – or coaches, for that matter.
18) Jeremy Guthrie
I know what you’re all saying, “Guthrie?? REALLY?” My answer? Yes, Guthrie. This guy got zero run support during his time in Baltimore, and that made his numbers look awful. He might have been the first pitcher to 20 losses every season, but the guy was a great player, teammate and human being. He was a great asset to the Orioles and the Baltimore community. Still bummed the O’s parted ways with him this off-season.
17) Armando Benitez
Benitez didn’t really reach his full potential with the O’s, but he was an integral part of the bullpen his last season in Baltimore. He was the perfect set-up man for Randy Myers in 1997, which just so happens to be the last time the Orioles were relevant. Plus, I was at the game where he made his MLB debut, so that has to count for something.
16) Jay Gibbons
Do I dare put an asterisk next to his name? Gibbons was a solid cog in the O’s offense. Yes, we all know now that maybe he was slightly enhanced at the time, but we’ll never know the whole story. You can’t deny the presence he brought to the O’s lineup. Plus, he was in Wedding Crashers! What other Oriole player can say that?
Stay tuned next week for the rest of the list!