Introducing the Baltimore Orioles All-Decade team
The Baltimore Orioles All-Decade team
The Orioles' 2010s decade was much more fruitful than the 2000s, with a number of stars coming through Baltimore leading to a lot of wins from 2012-16. Here is our All-Decade team for the Orioles of the 2010s.
Manager - Buck Showalter
Come on, like this was even a debate? Showalter brought winning baseball back to the Orioles and is the most successful manager they’ve had since Earl Weaver. The Orioles won the most games in the American League from 2012-16. He is the only choice.
Catcher - Matt Wieters
Wieters was Adley Rutschman before Adley Rutschman. A highly-touted college catcher, he moved through the minors quickly and found himself at the center of the Orioles’ competitive teams in the first half of the decade.
Wieters made four All-Star games and won two Gold Gloves between 2011 and 2016. He is the obvious choice at catcher.
First Base - Chris Davis
Are the brutal last three seasons enough to undo all the good from Davis’ 2012-16? No. They are not.
What Davis did in those five seasons was incredible, as he turned himself into one of the most feared sluggers in franchise history. He set a team record with 53 home runs during a 2013 campaign in which he finished top-three in MVP voting. That alone would be enough to cement his place on this team.
Second Base - Jonathan Schoop
From 2013-18, Schoop was a reliable second baseman with a power arm and a power bat. His range left a lot to be desired, as did his plate discipline, but Schoop played a key role on successful Orioles teams in 2014 and 2016, and he made the All-Star Game in 2017 during what was easily the best season of his career as he hit 32 home runs and batted a career-high 293.
Third Base - Manny Machado
On an All-Decade team full of obvious choices, Machado at third base is as obvious as they come. The most purely talented player in franchise history, Machado’s career helps kick off the Orioles’ competitive window, providing historic defense at the hot corner and big moments at the plate.
In six and a half seasons in Charm City, Machado was worth 36.9 WAR, making four All-Star teams, winning two Gold Gloves and finishing top-10 in MVP voting three separate times.
Shortstop - J.J. Hardy
Hardy was worth at least 3.2 WAR every season from 2011 to 2014, providing a steadying presence at shortstop for the best teams in recent Orioles history. He won three consecutive Gold Gloves, in addition to winning the Silver Slugger and making the All-Star Game in 2013.
His veteran presence not only helped the Orioles win a lot of games, but also set an example of professionalism and work ethic that he passed along to both Machado and Schoop in the infield.
Left Field - Trey Mancini
The only real question mark among position players on the All-Decade team is left field. Mancini is a worthy choice based on his excellent rookie season in 2017 and his 2019 breakout.
The biggest knock on Mancini is time, with him not only playing three seasons this decade but also not overlapping with the best teams of the decade in 2012 and 2014. He also is miscast as a left fielder, with first base the more natural fit for Mancini.
Still, the bat is strong enough that despite the knocks, Mancini is a quality choice for this team. If he sticks around long enough, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the 2020s version of the Orioles All-Decade team either.
Center Field - Adam Jones
If you thought some of the other selections were obvious, they pale in comparison to Adam Jones.
Jones was the face of the franchise from day one, bringing leadership and personality to a team that had struggled to win for so long. He won three straight Gold Gloves while making four straight All-Star games and earning MVP votes from 2012 to 2014. It’s no coincidence that Jones’ best years aligned with the team’s, and his 31.6 WAR ranks 18th all-time in franchise history.
Right Field - Nick Markakis
It’s hard to believe Markakis spent just as many years this decade in Atlanta as he did in Baltimore. But while his best years came before 2010, his impact in Baltimore was unforgettable.
For a long time, Markakis felt like the only player worth following with the Orioles, and his joy at winning the division in 2014 was one of the highlight moments of the entire decade for O’s fans.
The team has struggled to fill his customary spot in right field ever since his departure, and despite his middling numbers -- he never topped 2.7 WAR in any one season this decade -- he will forever have a place in the hearts of O’s fans. He has to be on this team.
Designated Hitter - Nelson Cruz
How much do you value a single season? Apparently, quite a bit.
Cruz played a lot of outfield in 2014, but his true value has always been with his bat first and foremost. That was never more true than in 2014, when Cruz signed a one-year deal with the Orioles and went on to lead baseball with 40 home runs.
His bat rounded out the team’s lineup, and he was a force for the only division-winning roster in recent memory for the Orioles. The 2014 Orioles had the best chance to win the World Series of any team the franchise has had this century, and Cruz was a huge reason why.
Bench - Mark Trumbo
Trumbo is similar to Cruz in that his value comes at the plate. He only had two healthy seasons in Baltimore, averaging 35 home runs from 2016-17. His 47 home runs in 2016 led baseball, helping him make his only All-Star Game in Baltimore.
He has some flaws as a player, but what he does, he does really, really well.
Bench - Ryan Flaherty
Flaherty is a true utility player, spending time at every infield position and multiple outfield positions as well. He quickly became a fan favorite in Baltimore, and was also a favorite of manager Buck Showalter.
His stats may not jump off the page, but Flaherty filled his backup role as well as anyone the Orioles have had this decade, and his tenure with the team will always be looked on fondly.
Jonathan Villar has a compelling case, but let's be honest. It just wouldn't be an Orioles 2010s team without Ryan Flaherty.
Bench - Steve Pearce
This was the only other truly difficult decision. The Orioles have had a number of players who played key roles in the early parts of the decade. Guys like Nate McLouth can make decent cases to be included, but there are only three bench spots to fill here. Even Robert Andino could have made a case based purely on his iconic hit to end the 2011 season.
But Steve Pearce earned this spot. He recorded 5.9 WAR in his 2014 season alone, playing a major role in the team’s success that season as he hit 21 home runs in just 102 games.
He fits the bill of a great bench hitter as well as anyone the Orioles have had this decade.
Ace - Chris Tillman
The standout issue for the Orioles this decade was starting pitching, but Tillman did his best to fill the role of Ace for a team in contention. 2013 was his best season, when he finished 16-7 and made his on All-Star Game.
He never fulfilled the potential he flashed when he came over from the Mariners in 2008, but he was a reliable starter for a team that struggled to find them.
Starting Pitcher - Wei-Yin Chen
Chen is sometimes forgotten about, but was perhaps the team’s most reliable starting pitcher this decade. His ERA never grew higher than 4.07 in any given season, and he was worth just under 10 WAR in his four seasons with the team.
By ERA+, he was an average or above average pitcher in all four seasons, which was more than enough for a franchise with plentiful hitting, defense and relief pitching.
Starting Pitcher - Kevin Gausman
It’s a shame Gausman is more remembered for what he wasn’t -- worth the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft -- than what he was: a talented, decent pitcher who was rarely given a fair shake by the Orioles.
Gausman was sent back and forth from the minors to the majors too often, and his development suffered for it. His career ERA in Baltimore was just 4.22, but he flashed his immense arm talent often enough to keep fans wanting more.
Starting Pitcher - Miguel Gonzalez
Gonzalez was a surprise find for the Orioles, and he ended up playing a key role during the team’s run from 2012-14. He is one of the few Orioles this decade with an ERA below four, and he won between nine and 11 games while accumulating 7.0 WAR in those three seasons.
Starting Pitcher - Jason Hammel
Hammel didn’t have a ton of success in Baltimore, but his best season -- 2012 -- was critical for the Orioles’ first postseason appearance in a decade and a half. His ERA+ of 123 that season made him one of the team’s aces, even though it didn’t last long.
When in doubt, give the edge to someone who played a vital role for the most fun Orioles team of this generation.
Closer - Zach Britton
The Orioles have employed a lot of terrific relief pitchers this decade, but one clearly stands out above the rest.
Zach Britton (not to be confused with Zack Britton, as he goes by in New York) put together an all-time season in 2016. He recorded 4.2 WAR, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting and 11th in MVP voting despite being a relief pitcher.
He saved at least 36 games each season from 2014-16, but his 0.54 ERA in 2016 will always be remembered as perhaps the greatest single relief season in MLB history.
Setup Man - Darren O'Day
O’Day’s unorthodox sidearm delivery baffled hitters for years, as he pitched to a 2.40 ERA in seven seasons with the Orioles. 2012-15 was his heyday, as he spent that time as one of the best setup men in baseball.
2015 was his best season and the only time he made the All-Star Game.
LOOGY - Brian Matusz
Matusz makes this team for one reason and one reason only: his utter dominance of David Ortiz.
Despite never coming close to living up to his draft billing, the former top-five pick showed an aptitude for pitching to feared left-handed sluggers. Josh Hamilton was 1-for-13 in his career against Matusz, but his most famous victim was Big Papi.
Ortiz was 4-for-29 with 13 strikeouts and zero home runs in his career against Matusz. That alone is enough to give him the lefty specialist role in the All-Decade bullpen.
Relief Pitcher - Jim Johnson
Johnson was Britton before Britton, a groundball-inducing machine who had an ERA+ of 151 and recorded at least 50 saves in back-to-back seasons. He was an integral member of the first good Oriole team of the decade in 2012, with an ERA of 2.49.
If not for Britton’s historic run, Johnson would be a more-than-worthy closer on our team.
Relief Pitcher - Brad Brach
Brach was a great find for Dan Duquette and the Orioles, joining the team in 2014 and quickly becoming one of the most reliable relievers in a bullpen full of them.
Brach’s best year was 2016, when he won a whopping 10 games out of the bullpen, finished with a 2.05 ERA and made the All-Star team.
Relief Pitcher - Pedro Strop
Strop may have had longer success in Chicago, but he enjoyed a 3.30 ERA in three seasons in Baltimore, including a dominant 2012 season in which (noticing a pattern here?) he played a crucial role in the Orioles’ first winning season in 14 seasons.
Relief Pitcher - Mychal Givens
Givens famously converted to pitching after a failed shortstop career, and he quickly showed off his natural arm talent. Prior to a tough 2019 campaign, Givens’ career ERA was 3.12 while striking out 301 batters in 260.0 innings.
He is one of the few representatives still on the roster entering the next decade, and has alternated from lights out future closer to middling reliever. The talent is there, though, and the highs are high enough to earn him a spot on the All-Decade team.
Relief Pitcher - Tommy Hunter
We could have been convinced to go with Andrew Miller, who was lights out for the bullpen in his short, two-month stint in 2014, or even Koji Uehara, who was terrific in 2010-11 and brought back Chris Davis in a trade with the Rangers.
But Tommy Hunter gets the nod here thanks to his longevity. He also came over in the Uehara, trade in 2011, and spent six seasons in Baltimore. After early struggles, he found his groove from 2013-15 as a middle reliever in front of an elite backend of the bullpen.