This is the fourth article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Baltimore Orioles. In this installment, outfielders and designated hitters.
The Baltimore Orioles might not feature nine Hall of Famers among their 15 outfielders, like the Atlanta Braves did (check out that article and more at the bottom of this story). However, what the Orioles lack in superstar names, they more than make up for in depth, although they also have multiple players on the lists below who have been enshrined in Cooperstown.
The Best Outfielders and Designated Hitters in Baltimore Orioles History
5. Jesse Burkett – A star in the 1890s with the National League’s Cleveland Spiders, Burkett came over from the rival Cardinals and played three seasons with the Browns in the early 1900s. In 1902, when the Browns finished in second place, he had his best season, hitting .306 with 97 runs scored, 169 hits, 52 runs batted in, and 23 stolen bases. Overall, Burkett played 417 games with St. Louis, posting a .290 average, 476 hits, and 119 RBIs. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.
4. George Stone – A speedy contact hitter, played two games with Boston before coming over to St. Louis in 1905. Stone led the league with 187 hits as a rookie, then hit .358 and edged out Hall of Famer Napoleon Lajoie for the American League batting title the following year. In 846 games over six seasons with the Browns (1905-10), he hit .301 with 984 hits, 268 RBIs and 132 steals. However, his skills began to decline and after two seasons in the minor leagues, Stone retired in 1912, opting for a career in the banking industry and a chance to spend more time playing the violin.
3. Don Buford – Split his 10-year career evenly between the White Sox and Orioles, joining Baltimore in 1968. A consistent run producer and solid fielder, Buford hit .270 in 665 games, totaling 408 runs scored, 632 hits, and 252 runs batted in. His best season was 1971 when he led the American League with 99 runs scored and earned his only All-Star selection. In 22 postseason games with the Orioles, Buford hit five home runs and drove in 11 runs. He played in three World Series and was part of the team that won the championship in 1970.
2. B.J. Surhoff – After a solid start to his career with the Brewers, Surhoff spent eight seasons with Baltimore in two stints (1996-2000 and 03-05). He played 1,001 games with the Orioles, hitting .291 with 1,072 hits, 120 home runs, and 551 runs batted in, and he had at least 150 and 80 RBIs in four straight years. Surhoff’s best season was 1999 when he earned his only All-Star selection after posting career highs with 104 runs, 207 hits, 28 home runs, and 107 runs batted in while also hitting .308. He hit three homers and drove in 10 runs in 18 playoff games, helping Baltimore reach the ALCS in back-to-back years (1996-97).
1. Ken Williams – He was an underrated star who played in an era before All-Star Games and would have been selected at least four times had the Midsummer Classic been established. Williams came to the Browns in 1918 and spent the next 10 seasons patrolling the spacious left field of Sportsman’s Park. He scored at least 80 runs, drove in at least 80 runs and reached the 30 double mark five times apiece, and he had at least 160 hits and 20 home runs four times each. Williams’ best season was 1922.
The Browns came within one game of the Yankees in the AL Pennant race, and he led the league and beat out Babe Ruth in both home runs (39) and RBIs (a franchise-record 155). During that season, he also became the first American Leaguer to hit three home runs in a game. Overall, Williams is third in team history with a .326 average, fifth with 70 triples, seventh with 811 RBIs, and ninth with 185 home runs. In 1,109 games, he also scored 757 runs and had 1,308 hits.
Honorable Mention – Burt Shotton possessed speed and the ability to get on base, and he used both frequently throughout his eight years in St. Louis (1909, 11-17). He scored at least 80 runs in six straight seasons and had at least 150 hits and 30 stolen bases five times each. Overall, “Barney” played 1,041 games with the Browns, totaling 641 runs, 1,070 hits, 228 runs batted in, and 242 stolen bases, a mark that ranks fifth on the all-time franchise list. After retiring as a player, he spent 11 seasons as a manager, leading the Brooklyn Dodgers to a pair of National League pennants in the late 1940s.
5. Al Bumbry – He served in the Vietnam War before joining the Orioles late in 1972. Over the next 12 seasons, Bumbry served as Baltimore’s speedy leadoff hitter, and he ranks fourth on the franchise list with 252 stolen bases and tenth with 772 runs scored. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1973 after hitting .337, stealing 23 bases, and leading the league with 11 triples, but his best season was 1980 when he made his only All-Star team after hitting .318 and setting career highs with 118 runs, 205 hits, nine home runs, 53 RBIs and 44 steals. Bumbry had 1,403 hits and 392 RBIs in 1,428 games with the Orioles.
4. Baby Doll Jacobson – He was a great fielder and the center of one of the best outfields in the American League during the early 1920s. Flanked by Ken Williams and Jack Tobin, Jacobson spent 10 years in St. Louis before being traded in 1926. Bill Jacobson got his nickname in the minor leagues. Right before the opening game of the 1912 season, the band at the stadium started playing “Oh, You Beautiful Baby Doll,” a popular song at the time. Jacobson hit a leadoff home run and the name stuck with him through the years.
With the Browns, he scored 80 or more runs, had 30 or more doubles and drove in at least 80 runs five times apiece and hit over .300 had at least 170 hits seven times each. His best season was in 1920 when he hit .355 with 97 runs, 216 hits, and 122 runs batted in on just nine home runs. Overall, Jacobson played 1,243 games with the Browns, totaling 76 homers and 704 RBIs. He also ranks high on the franchise list in triples (second with 88), batting average (tied for fifth at .317), hits (ninth with 1,508), and doubles (tied for tenth with 269).
3. Paul Blair – The main reason the Orioles won so much in the late 1960s and early 1970s was their defense and Blair was a major factor in the field. He was a two-time All-Star and an eight-time gold glove winner who helped Baltimore reach the World Series four times during his 13 years with the team. Blair led the league in triples with 11 in 1967 and his best season was two years later when he set career highs with 102 runs, 178 hits, 32 doubles, 26 home runs, and 76 RBIs. In 1970, he sustained a broken nose and other injuries when he was hit in the face by a pitch.
He returned later in the season but was so haunted by the experience that he received hypnosis therapy to stop ducking away from inside pitches. Blair played in 1,700 games with the Orioles (seventh in franchise history), had 167 steals (eighth) and 269 doubles (tied for tenth) to go along with 126 home runs and 567 runs batted in. He had three homers and 14 RBIs in 35 postseason games with Baltimore.
2. Brady Anderson – He was traded from the Red Sox to the Orioles along with Curt Schilling for Mike Boddicker in 1988, and he would spend the next decade-plus in Baltimore. After coming off the bench his first four seasons with the Orioles, Anderson started in left field for four years and earned an All-Star selection in 1992, thanks to 10 triples, 21 homers and 53 steals in his first year as a starter.
He moved over to center field in 1996 and exploded offensively, setting career highs with a .297 average, 117 runs, 172 hits, 37 doubles, 50 home runs, 110 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases, making him the only player in Major League history with 20 home runs and 50 stolen bases in one season and 50 homers and 20 steals in another. The home run total was the second-highest single-season mark in team history (behind only Chris Davis with 53 in 2013).
Anderson remained in center for the rest of his career, leaving for the Indians in 2002 after he started to decline. Overall, he sits second on the franchise list with 307 stolen bases, is fifth in runs (1,044), sixth in games (1,759), hits (1,614) and doubles (329), seventh in total bases (2,689), eighth in home runs (209) and tenth in triples (64) and RBIs (744).
1. Adam Jones – Not to be confused with the NFL’s Adam “Pacman” Jones, the baseball Jones was a five-time All-Star, a four-time gold glove winner and a 2013 silver slugger recipient during an 11-year Orioles career. He reached 150 hits eight times, 20 home runs seven times, and he both scored 80 and drove in 80 runs six times each. Jones ranks fifth in team history in hits (1,781), total bases (2,929), and home runs (263), sixth in RBIs (866), seventh in runs (875), eighth in doubles (305), and ninth in games (1,613). He also hit a homer and drove in three runs during Baltimore’s trip to the ALCS in 2014.
5. Jay Gibbons – He never made an All-Star team, but he hit 20 or more home runs three times during his seven-year stint in Charm City. Gibbons’ best season was 2003, when he hit 23 home runs and posted career highs with a .277 average, 80 runs scored, 173 hits, 39 doubles and 100 runs batted in. In 779 games with the Orioles, he had 724 hits, 121 homers and 405 RBIs.
4. Nick Markakis – Although he was never an All-Star during his nine years with the Orioles (2006-14), Markakis had at least 170 hits six times, reached the 80 runs scored and 30 doubles mark five times each and hit 20 home runs and drove in 100 runs twice each. The two-time gold glove winner also hit a homer and drove in three runs to help Baltimore reach the ALCS in 2014 before signing with the Braves in the offseason. In 1,365 games “Kakes” hit 141 home runs and drove in 658 runs, and he ranks seventh in team history in doubles (316), eighth in hits (1,547), and ninth in total bases (2,318).
3. Jack Tobin – After two years in the short-lived Federal League, Tobin joined the Browns and, after spending all of 1917 in the minor leagues, became the team’s leadoff hitter, a role he held for eight seasons. He was one-third of that great Browns outfield with Williams and Jacobson, and he hit well over .300 and had at least 200 hits four straight years (1920-23). His best season was 1921 when he had 59 RBIs and set career highs with a .352 average, 132 runs, 236 hits, and a league-leading 18 triples. In 1,133 games with St. Louis, Tobin has 1,399 hits and 438 RBIs, and he is also tied for third in franchise history with 72 triples and ranks fourth with a .318 average.
2. Ken Singleton – After five seasons with the Mets and Expos, he was sent to the Orioles before the 1975 season in what turned out to be a pretty lopsided trade. None of the pieces Montreal received met expectations while Singleton earned three All-Star selections and was an anchor in Baltimore’s outfield for a decade. A switch-hitter with power, he had four straight seasons (1977-80) where he hit at least 20 home runs and drove in at least 80 runs. His best season was 1979 when he hit .295 with career highs in homers (35) and RBIs (111). He posted a .276-18-84 stat line in 1983 and then was a part of the team’s championship run. In 1,446 games with the Orioles, Singleton had 1,455 hits, and he ranks ninth in franchise history with 766 RBIs and tenth with 182 home runs. He retired as a player after the 1984 season and enjoyed a nearly 20-year run as a broadcaster for the Expos and Yankees before announcing his retirement in 2021.
1. Frank Robinson – Although he doesn’t even rank in the top 10 in any offensive category in team history, he is more than deserving of this spot. Robinson was traded from the Reds to the Orioles in December of 1965 and wasted no time wowing fans in Baltimore. He earned the American League MVP Award after winning the Triple Crown with a .316 average, 49 home runs, and 122 runs batted in (he also led the league with 122 runs scored). Robinson is still the only person in Major League history to be named MVP in both leagues (he won the NL award with the Reds in 1961).
Robinson was named an All-Star five times during his six years in Baltimore, and he scored at least 80 runs and hit at least 25 home runs five times apiece, posting a .300 average and driving in at least 90 runs four times each and topping 150 hits twice. In 827 games with the Orioles, he scored 555 runs, had 882 hits, snacked 179 home runs, drove in 545 runs, and hit exactly .300. Robinson was also potent in the postseason, hitting two home runs in Baltimore’s run to the 1966 title while winning World Series MVP, then hitting two more as the Orioles toppled his former team, the Reds, in 1970. Overall, he had nine homers and 15 RBIs in 30 playoff games with Baltimore. Robinson hit his 500th career home run as a member of the Orioles in 1971 and became the first black manager in Major League history when he joined the Indians in 1975. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
1. Harold Baines – Although Singleton and Eddie Murray spent some time at the position, no one had the Baines’ impact on the lineup. He had three separate stints totaling seven seasons with the club (1993-95, 97-99, and 2000) and he was a solid hitter in despite being in the twilight of his career. Baines played more than 100 games four times with the Orioles and reached the .300 average and 20 home run marks three times each. In 666 games, he had 638 hits, 107 homers, and 378 RBIs while hitting .301. He was elected to the Hall of Fame through the Veterans Committee in 2019 and remains one of the most controversial Hall selections.
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