The Mount Rushmore of the Baltimore Orioles

1983 O-Pee-Chee #163 Cal Ripken – It is absolutely impossible not to love this card with an absolute passion.

This Mount Rushmore takes a look at the original Milwaukee Brewers. After joining the American League in 1901, the Brewers relocated to St. Louis for the next season and re-branded themselves as the Browns. Following the 1953 season, the franchise moved one last time, this time moving to Baltimore. They took the name of a previous franchise that played there (and later moved to New York…) and called themselves the Orioles.

For years, this was a pretty bad franchise. From 1901 to 1943, they didn’t have a single first-place finish (in just an 8-team league!) They had only 2 second-place finishes in that time too. After finishing first and losing the World Series in 1944, the team embarked on another went another 21 years without another top finish. Then, in 1966, their fortunes changes. The Orioles won the World Series that year, made 3 more finals in 1969-1971 (including another win in 1970) and proceeded to make the playoffs 4 more times from 1973-1983, capping off with yet another World Series win in that final season.

Since 1983, the pickings have been pretty slim. They’ve made the playoffs just twice (in 1996 and 1997, losing in the  ALCS each time) and are way under .500 for that period. So far, 2012 has been the best season in years for the team, with them clinging to 2nd place in the AL East.

Anyway, the franchise has had some pretty awesome players over the years. Let’s dig in.

Here are the leaders for the franchise in WAR among batters:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Cal Ripken 90.9 1981 2001
2 Brooks Robinson 72.7 1955 1977
3 Eddie Murray 53.2 1977 1996
4 George Sisler 49.6 1915 1927
5 Bobby Wallace 45.2 1902 1916
6 Ken Williams 37.7 1918 1927
7 Mark Belanger 37.5 1965 1981
8 Paul Blair 36.4 1964 1976
9 Harlond Clift 34.9 1934 1943
10 Bobby Grich 34.4 1970 1976
11 Brady Anderson 32.2 1988 2001
12 Boog Powell 31.8 1961 1974
13 Frank Robinson 30.4 1966 1971
14 Ken Singleton 27.5 1975 1984
15 Melvin Mora 26.9 2000 2009
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/15/2012.

Well, let’s see. Is it possible to leave off any of those top 4 Hall of Famers? I guess. maybe if they’ve had no decent pitchers…heh. (Paging Mr. Palmer, Mr. Jim Palmer.)

Cal Ripken–well I don’t really know what to say about him that hasn’t already been said. Inner-circle Hall of Famer. Brooks Robinson is generally regarded as the second-greatest 3rd baseman  of all time. Eddie Muray is the second-best switch-hitter of all time. Gorgeous George is probably the weakest of the 4, despite having the 16th-highest batting average of all time.

It’s pretty hard to ignore some other players who were key contributors during playoff years: Mark Belanger, Paul Blair, Bobby Grich, Brady Anderson. Boog Powell, and Frank Robinson.

Among pitchers here are the top 15 among WAR:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Jim Palmer 63.2 1965 1984
2 Mike Mussina 45.0 1991 2000
3 Urban Shocker 35.9 1918 1924
4 Jack Powell 29.4 1902 1912
5 Ned Garver 22.5 1948 1952
6 Carl Weilman 22.3 1912 1920
7 Dave McNally 22.2 1962 1974
8 Barney Pelty 21.3 1903 1912
9 Harry Howell 21.2 1904 1910
10 Milt Pappas 20.3 1957 1965
11 Mike Flanagan 19.3 1975 1992
12 Lefty Stewart 19.0 1927 1932
13 George Blaeholder 18.4 1925 1935
14 Nels Potter 17.7 1943 1948
15 Scott McGregor 17.7 1976 1988
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/15/2012.

These are surprisingly low totals, aren’t they? Jim Palmer’s the bees knees, and Mike Mussina did really well in his 10 years with the club. Shocker and Powell put up nice totals too but during years when the team was bad.

We also must mention Earl Weaver, the manager who made such a massive imprint on the franchise.

Please choose four candidates:


The Mount Rushmore of the Baltimore Orioles — 83 Comments

  1. I voted for Ripken, Brooks Robinson, Murray and Palmer, but I’d like to chime in with my St. Louis Browns Mount Rushmore: George Sisler, Bobby Wallace, Ken Williams, Urban Shocker.

  2. The O’s were such a powerhouse during my teenage years.They provided a great rivalry for my A’s.Cal, Brooks and Palmer were automatic for me. The tough decision was between Earl Weaver,Frank Robinson and Bobby Grich. Earl got the nod,as he exemplifies,to me,the manager who could win with a decent team,and win it all with a good one. BTW the sculpt of Earl MUST have his cap on backwards and flecks of granite spittle aimed at the Rushmore of Umpires.

  3. I always knew the STL Browns were a terrible franchise but to see that the entire history of the franchise pre-1960 won’t be represented (a few years of the Vacuum Cleaner) is pretty astonishing. Hard to go against Ripken-Palmer-Brooks-Murray; I think only dropping Murray for someone else is an option. That’s the only reason I picked Sisler.

  4. My four (relunctantly) were Ripken, B. Robinson, Palmer and Murray. I desperately wanted a Brown and actually really desperately wanted a 1944 Brown, but there is no one on that team that even remotely can be considered an all timer Oriole/Brown. Vern Stephens was a really nice player, but unfortunately the Brownies decided to donate him to the BoSox for the second half of his career. And Nels Potter (from Walnut Grove, perhaps?) really was a war time pitcher who did nothing before WWII and nothing after.

    I do dispute the veracity of this statement: “Brooks Robinson is generally regarded as the second-greatest 3rd baseman of all time.” I would say 4th greatest and I think quite a few would agree with me.

    • If you were desperate for a 1944 Brownie and read my article of a few months ago you could have considered George McQuinn who was the only member of the Browns to hit a World Series HR. :-)

    • I’d say 5th or 6th:

      1. Mike Schmidt
      2. Eddie Mathews
      3. Wade Boggs
      4. George Brett
      5. Chipper Jones
      6. Brooks Robinson

      Putting Chipper Jones ahead of Robinson is debatable, but I think a lot of people put those other four guys ahead of him.

    • “Brooks Robinson is generally regarded as the second-greatest 3rd baseman of all time.”

      We’ve had this discussion before, the evolution of “The Greatest Third Baseman Ever (TGTBE)” designation (somewhat shortened version):

      Up until the early 70s, Pie Traynor was usually regarded as TGTBE (Eddie Mathews and his 512 HR don’t seem to have made much of an impression). By the mid/late 70s, Brooks gradually assumed the role of TGTBE.

      Schmidt began to get support as TGTBE by the early 80s, and was the consensus TGTBE by his retirement in 1989, with Brett #2 and Mathews getting more recognition. With the increasing exposure of more advanced analysis, nowadays also Wade Boggs and Chipper Jones are regarded as equal to/better than Brooks.

      So if Brooks is a consensus Top-5 TGTBE, it’s not by much, and some people don’t consider him Top-5 anymore, being behind the people mentioned above (minus Pie), plus maybe Ron Santo. It mostly depends on how much you value his defense.

        • K&J,

          I didn’t say that Santo was clearly better than Brooks, merely that “maybe some people” might consider Santo equal to or better than Brooks.

          Santo was clearly a much better offensive player than Brooks (edges of 62.4-42.3 in oWAR, and 125 to 104 in OPS+, for starters), and an excellent defensive player himself, so I don’t think it’s completely ludicrous to consider Santo the equal of Brooks.

          • I would be one of those people taking Santo over Brooks, because I place more emphasis on peak over career value. Santo’s peak was ridiculously good (even in Brooks’ MVP year Ron was easily the better player), and the extra doubles that Brooks swallowed up with his glove (and there weren’t all that many more; Ronnie was a five-time Gold Glover himself), Santo more than made up for with the markedly more homers he hit, as well as the many many many more walks he drew.

        • I’m with you. Santo benefited from Wrigley. His road stats triple slash at .257/.342/.406/.747, with a 160 OPS home-road swing for Santo. That .747 OPS is still greater than Robinson’s .723, but considering the rapid end of Santo’s career preventing a decline from dragging down his numbers, and the great length of Robinson’s which did drag his down, the gap is even less.

          For the time period, Santo’s road stats are quite solid, but his overall numbers were enhanced by Wrigley to the point where if Brooks played his career as a Cub and Santo an Oriole, I’m positive there never would have even been a discussion about Santo for the HOF because I don’t rate Santo’s glove anywhere near Robinson’s. It’s similar to rating Omar Vizquel’s glove to Ozzie Smith’s. As I believe Bill James once noted, people have a hard time grasping that the gap between the greatest fielder and the second best fielder might be far greater than the gap between the second best fielder and the tenth best fielder, and Santo isn’t even the second-best fielder.

          I’m not knocking Santo here. Happy he finally made the Hall and it’s deserved based on positional adjustment. But Brooks’ defensive superiority and great career length means I don’t consider it a close call at all and would not be able to rate Santo ahead.

          • I think the Wrigley Field explanation here is a little too facile. Most people don’t realize that Wrigley didn’t play like a big hitter’s park in the 1960s, for the most part. If you compare its park factor with Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium during Santo’s peak, they’re not too different (104/100, 102/102, 101/99, 105/100, 107/100). It wasn’t Coors or even Fenway during this time.

            What I think Santo benefited from most in being at home, was being at home. As a diabetic, he had to deal with factors that 99% of other ballplayers don’t, and, while I could be wrong, I think being at home was a lot easier on him in dealing with his condition than being on the road (he even said as much).

          • This is not to discount in any way that Brooks had the better career because it was so much longer. As I said above, I was only comparing their peaks.

            And while no one denies that Brooks was better defensively, how do we quantify that? He made spectacular plays, we all saw them, but his and Santo’s assist and DP totals are comparable. He put up two spectacular Rdef seasons (30+) in 1968 and 1969 (Ronnie’s topped out in the teens), but sandwiching these seasons are ones of 4 and 5 Rdef. I just have a difficult time taking Rdef seriously when it elicits results like that.

            Again, not to knock Brooks – the defining defensive third baseman and a great great player.

  5. Interesting. As of right now, Ripken (40), Br Robinson (38), Palmer (38), and then it looks like Murray (19) & Weaver (14) are splitting the 4th spot between them. After that, nobody’s even got 7.

  6. I generally try to follow at least a very rough span of the franchise when picking but I’m having a really hard time with the concept of picking Sisler over Murray. I finally did go that way however since even though Sisler is over-rated since without his sinus related vision problems- which very likely would have be relatively easily treatable now- he may rank only behind Lou Gehrig as the greatest first baseman of all time.

    I ended up going Ripken, B Robinson, Palmer & Sisler with the Boog running the concessions stand and Paul “Motormouth” Blair as the tour guide.

  7. Mil/STL/Balt eras.
    1) ST. Louis years were pretty bad with really only George Sisler and the War years peaking with the 1944 pennant team – George Sisler, Urban Shocker, Bobby Wallace, Ken Williams, Harland Clift, Baby Doll Jacobson, George McQuinn, Vern Stephens, Jack Powell, Ned Garver, Nels Potter
    2) Move to Baltimore – some better success in the early 1960’s – Gus Triandos, Milt Pappas
    3) 1966 thru 1974 consistently in WS and playoffs – Brooks Roninson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Mark Belanger, Paul Blair, Don Buford, Davey Johnson, Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Earl Weaver
    4) 1979 thru 1983 last 2 WS appearances – Cal Ripkin Jr., Eddie Murray, Ken Singleton, Rick Dempsey, Rich Dauer, Doug Decinces, Mike Flannigan, Dennis Martinez, Mike Boddicker, Scott McGregor, Tippy Martinez, Sammy Stewart
    5) Mid-1990’s some playoff appearances – Mike Mussina, Brady Anderson, Raphael Palmiero, Chris Hoiles, Mike Devereaux
    6) 2000’s not kind to Orioles – Matt Wieters, Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora, Mike Bordick (as the Ripkin replacement), Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Sidney Ponson, Erik Bedard

    Overall Mount Rushmore – Cal Ripkin Jr., Brooks Robinson, George Sisler, Jim Palmer (over Mike Mussina, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver and Boog Powell – gets a BBQ bump)

  8. So after I was done voting, there were 208 total votes (52 voters perhaps? – it will accept less than 4 votes from a voter, right?)

    Cal Ripkin “only” has 50 votes – so (at least) 2 people did not vote for him.

    Also looks like Urban Shocker’s mom rose from the grave to cast an online vote for her son. :)

    Seems like Everyone loves Ripkin(50 votes), B.Robby(48), and Palmer (47), then it depends on if you want a Brown (Sisler – 11), or a manager (Weaver – 16). If no to either of those scenarios, then it is Murray (24).

    • I really do spell Ripken wrong every single time. It is not like I ever looked at “Ripken” and even thought it was incorrect. I guess it is just wrong in my brain database.

  9. “Brooks Robinson is generally regarded as the second greatest third baseman of all time?” I must have missed those articles. Ahead of Brett and Mathews, not to mention Jones and Boggs?

    • Well, that’s a fair comment. Brooks *IS* 6th in career WAR among 3B, behind the 4 you mentioned plus of course Mike Schmidt.

      • I didn’t say it wasn’t a fair comment, just that I’ve never seen a discussion of 3Bs that had him in the top 4 (and yeah, Schmidt’s the implied #1)

        BTW: Be fun to see a Mount Rushmore of the top 5 at each position, leaving out DH!

  10. This is yet another team that just cries out for multiple Mt Rushmore’s. The time periods below are not equal, but that’s so I can have a somewhat equal balance of players:

    MIL/ST LOUIS BROWNS (1901-1953):
    -Bobby Wallace
    -George Sisler
    -Ken Williams (late-bloomer, one of the semi-forgotten sluggers of the 20’s)
    -Urban Shocker (love that name…)

    TOUGH to LEAVE OUT: Powell, Harlond Clift

    BALTIMORE ORIOLES, pre-DH (1954-1972):
    -Earl Weaver
    -Frank Robinson

    TOUGH to LEAVE OUT: Belanger, Grich, Blair, McNally (where’s Mike Ceullar in the poll? – I understand his WAR is a little short, but he did win 143 games in 8 years, the glory days of 1968-1975)

    ORIOLES since DH (1973-on)
    -Mr Underwear, Jim Palmer (could’ve gone under pre-DH)
    -Steady Eddie
    -Mike Mussina

    TOUGH to LEAVE OUT: Brady Anderson

    You’d have to dig really deep to find a worthy member of the 1901 Milwaukee Brewers; John Anderson would seem to be the only player on the 1901 team that was both good,and played with the Browns for a couple years after.

  11. 1) One reason the Palmer’s WAR is not as impressive as his reputation, and even more so for Cuellar and McNally etc is that the Orioles were one of the greatest defensive teams ever. Palmer’s WAR calculations figure his defense was worth .33 runs per 9IP. His ERA+ is 125. If we add .33 to his ERA and that drops his ERA+ to 112.

    2) Please stop saying that the Orioles were named for the AL team that moved to NY and later became the Yankees. The NL Orioles in the 1890’s were probably the most famous team in 19th century baseball. (Keeler, Robinson, McGraw, Jennings, Kelley, etc.) They were preceded by a ML AA team also called the Orioles going back to 1882. Perhaps the last great independent minor league teams were Jack Dunn’s Orioles in the 1910’s through 1925. He kept Lefty Grove for years after he would have been an excellent ML pitcher. (The Federal League competition forced him to sell another pitcher back in 1914, could hit a little too.) There are very few team names that just could not be anywhere else. The earlier franchises changed there names from Orioles when they moved out and to Orioles when they moved in.

    • Must have been fun to be a pitcher for Baltimore in the early 70s and have Belanger, Robinson, Grich and Blair backing you up. Wonder if that’s why Palmer wasn’t a big time strikeout guy….why bother bearing down and tiring yourself out with that defense behind you?

      • The O’s 1971 starting pitchers could have their own mini-Mount Rushmore: McNally, Palmer, Cuellar and Pat Dobson all with 20 wins.

        McNally’s season is of note becuse he made just 30 starts (no relief appearances), whereas the others made at least 37 starts (Dobson had 1 relief appearance).

        There have only been 12 such seasons (20+ Win in 30 or less Games), and only 4 since 1943 (Beckett 2007, Pedro 2002, Big Unit 1997 and McNally 1971).

        • good call. I actually thought about advocating for
          the 1971 staff to be one of my four.

          I would say that their record of four 20-game winners
          on one staff in one year may stand for a long time.

          • True for now. Meanwhile, how about the 1998 Braves with FIVE 16-game winners (and 4 with 17+), all the in the rotation? Matched only by the 1923 Yankees. (What? The 5-man rotation started 90 years ago? Actually, John McGraw used 5 starters as early as 1906.)

          • The record had already stood for 50 years before the O’s tied it: the ’20 ChiSox starting four won 87 total, over 20 each, and didn’t even win the pennant. Half the staff never again even won a single game.

          • The 1904 Giants got 89 wins from their top 3 starters, and 102 from their top 4. McGraw even used a 5th starter (Red Ames) in 13 games.

          • Also check out the 1930 Senators. The ace (Bump Hadley) had 34 starts, 4 others ranged from 22 to 25 starts, and a 6th had 16 starts. All of the top 5 won 15 times (and all were over .500), but only one won 16, and none 17.

            The Sens, under manager Walter Johnson, placed second at 94-60 with their unorthodox pitching approach.

  12. I agree with the general consensus of Ripken, Murray, Palmer, and Brooks Robinson, though I’m a bit surprised Frank Robinson doesn’t have more support. Is he more closely associated with the Reds?

  13. Good to have the Mt. Rushmore series back. Thanks Andy.

    I also agree with the consensus. I did think long and
    hard about Frank Robinson however. His career with the
    Orioles from 66-71 encompasses perfectly their best
    six year run. I would love to hear memories from
    some of our more experienced readers about that trade.
    Public sentiment at the time, that sort of thing.

    The problem with a Frank Robinson candidacy is who do you remove?

    In the end I cannot remove any of the four.

    In this order they are Cal Ripken, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer
    and Eddie Murray.

    If ever a manager deserved to be etched in stone it is the Earl of
    Baltimore. But alas, I haven’t and won’t select any managers for
    the Mt. Rushmore’s. Philosophical only, and since I started that
    way I will be consistent.

    • Perhaps it is appropriate to mention here that when Harlond Clift hit 29 homers in 1937 it established a seasonal record for third-basemen. The next year he became the first full-time third-baseman to hit more than 30. Mel Ott also had more than 30 that year but not all of his games were as a third-baseman.

  14. You can count me as one who never really thought Ripken was deserving of all the attention he got. A good steady player who played forever, sure, and there’s a lot to be said for that no doubt, but I really don’t see him as much more than that, and certainly not as an “inner circle” HOFer. Fairly similar for Brooks Robinson, although at least he had the ability to make spectacular defensive plays that would make you sit up and take notice (unlike Ripken).

    My picks:
    Frank Robinson–the only “gotta be in there” in my book.
    Jim Palmer
    George Sisler
    Eddie Murray

    • yeah, Ripken was just a “really good” defender, at an even more difficult position, but since he didn’t make you “sit up and take notice”, his defense was obviously worth little. I guess being third all time for rfield from the 6 doesn’t really mean much?

      Take a look at Cal’s 1991. He led the league in TB, as a SHORTSTOP.

      That was completely unheard of at the time.

      I think Ripken’s streak was overblown, but he was an incredible baseball player. If anything, all the media harping on the streak has perhaps some fans to overlook just how good he was at hitting and fielding a baseball.

      • George Will’s 1988 book, Men at Work, examined Cal Ripken as a defender. As I recall he postulated that what made Cal such a great defender, was how he positioned himself. In fact, as I recall, he made the case, before new stat defensive metrics came into vogue, that he was quite valuable defensively.

        Without checking the stats, I wonder how George Will’s theories on Cal’s defense are supported by the stats??

        It’s been almost 25 years since I read it, and yet I vividly
        recall enjoying it.

      • Ripken’s ’91 was great, but let’s keep some historical perspective.

        Honus Wagner led the league in TB 5 times as a SS. Others before Cal: Robin Yount in 1982, Zoilo Versalles in ’65, Ernie Banks in ’58 (with 379 TB, the SS record until 1996), Charlie Hollocher in ’18 and Rogers Hornsby in ’17.

      • Outside of the Total Bases claim, I generally agree with your points about Ripken. For his first 10 years, he was very consistent at a very high level; he’s one of 5 players with six 6-WAR seasons, which all came by age 30.

        And while I think the streak was grossly overcelebrated, the fact that he was available to play every day was quite valuable.

        • This is one of the reasons I prefer Santo to Brooks, to go off topic. Although I think WAR remains very sketchy and hardly accurate enough to quote to decimal points, Santo also had six 6 WAR seasons and a very high and consistent peak.

    • I’m more than willing to admit that I probably committed a classic knee jerk reaction regarding Ripken and really should examine his numbers, which I’ll try to do if I get some time.

      • A knee jerk reaction keeps Cal Ripken off of your Oriole Mt. Rushmore? Examining his numbers is something you should have done before you cast your ballot.

        Please tell me you are not voting in elections that matter.

        • Twas dumb no question. I hear they’re considering taking my HOF vote away because of it. Besides, I don’t believe the stone cutters have shown up yet, so surely there’s some slack time here no?

      • 8 real HOF voters kept him off their ballot too, 16 left Schmidt off, 5 Seaver, 81 Morgan, 9 Hammer, 45 Robby, 43 Mantle, heck it took Mathews 5 tries to get in, and so on

        • Walter Johnson got 83 % and Cy Young 76% of the vote in their respective early years. Nolan Ryan—I may be alone in thinking he’s a lower tier HOFer, but no one in his right mind would call him one of the truly elite (except in one department)—received the highest level of approval by the BBWAA, 98.8%. Ripken is highest among position players at 98.5. It all depends on who’s running for office in a given year, who’s voting, who has an ax to grind, who thinks a player shouldn’t get in on his first ballot.

          I’m no student of this at all, but it seems to me that the larger the Hall gets, the more pressure there is to 1) give universal acclamation to to unquestioned top-flight players; 2) under-support anyone else. Since the current approach of the veteran’s committee seems to be to elect no one except in shame at not doing it sooner (Ron Santo), I’d say the chances are slim to none for most players who don’t make big enough waves for first round admission, at least in the foreseeable future.

          Anyone who wants to set me straight on this is welcome to do so.

          • There are some candidates soon to be put on the ballot that could challenge those voting numbers. Clemens and Bonds, based on performance, could do so – but add in the steroid issues surrounding both, not to mention their prickly personalities, and neither is even a lock to get voted in. However, 2 guys I think that will get as close as anyone to being unanimous (though, of course somebody will not vote for them) are Derek Jeter and Greg Maddux, with an honorable mention to Griffey Jr.

            Jeter still has to finish his career, and how he does so will help determine his likelihood of unanimity. He’s safely inside the top 10 shortstops of all time, maybe top 5. He’s got a lifetime average of .313, will probably end up top 10 all time in both runs and hits, and has the added bonuses of playing for the Yankees and winning 5 WS titles. He has long been considered an elite baserunner for his instincts and awareness. His defense is the one area of his game that people tend to argue about, opinions ranging from adequate to less than Gawd-awful. He’s a no-doubt 1st ballot guy.

            Maddux is a lock for induction already. His career included 4 Cy Youngs, consecutively, no less and 9 top-5 finishes. His 355 wins are not only 8th all-time, but the most of anyone this side of Spahn for those whose careers have started in the last 100 years. His 99.7 WAR for pitchers also puts him 8th all-time.
            He helped his own cause with 18! Gold Gloves. To me his case is about as solid as Tom Seaver’s was, and Maddux has an edge in ERA+ over Tom Terrific of 132-127. Maddux’ biggest mark for critics is his overall lack of postseason success.

            If either Maddux or Jeter had played in any era other than the Steroid era, they would receive extremely high vote totals regardless. I think what could get them as close as anyone to garnering every vote is the perception of people that they did it the right way in a time when so few people did. The obvious backlash of voters against players such as Palmeiro and McGwire could go the reverse with guys like Jeter and Maddux and get voters who might otherwise waver voting for them to, perhaps, “send a message” on the steroid issue. Anyone else feel that way at all?

  15. I gave my vote to Sisler over Murray, with Ripken, Brooks, and Palmer for the O’s – special nooks for Pete Gray and Eddie Gaedel, physically the most unusual ballplayers ever to appear in the Majors.

    Voting for Sisler wasn’t just nostalgia for the Browns – a team I don’t actually remember. Sisler was a spectacular athlete – an outstanding pitching prospect who started well in the Majors – he became famous for outduelling Walter johnson twice – but was converted because his bat was too good (as Ruth later was). At his peak he was significantly greater than Murray, and if he’d let the sinusitis end his career, he’d have finished with a batting average over .360 and just under 50 WAR after eight seasons. The big news about him now is that advanced stats show he wasn’t as good as he was traditionally thought to be in terms of his lifetime record – he added almost nothing in WAR after his comeback – but over his three peak years before he fell ill, he batted .400 even, had an OPS well over 1.000, and led the league in triples and stolen bases twice. Branch Rickey groomed him at Michigan to turn the Browns into contenders and he did. I think his story is compelling enough to bridge the small WAR gap with Murray and earn the Browns a Rushmore bust. And remember, we’re talking about the face of Gorgeous George!

    • Sisler may not be one of the four most important people in franchise history, but I also voted for him, to “represent” the 50+ years of the Browns.

      If he hadn’t suffered from sinusitis, and had a normal career progression from ages 30-38, he might have finished with over 3,500 career hits, a career BA about the same as Hornsby (.358), and a reputation closer to Cobb and Speaker. It all speculative, of course.

  16. @39-half the 1920 Chisox staff was Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams who
    never played again after being suspended for life due to their roles in the
    previous years Black Sox scandal.

    Also, while they did have four SP win at least 20 games each, Dickie Kerr
    as the fourth starter only started 27 games, and appeared in 18 more finishing
    14. Kerr won 21 games that season, and a quick check of his game logs, reveals that four of his wins came in relief.

    Meanwhile the Orioles quartet of 20 game winners did indeed garner all
    their wins as starting pitchers, which IMO makes their feat unigue. Due
    to the five-man rotation and starters leaving games earlier today, this
    is something I doubt we see again.

  17. Earl Weaver’s vote % currently stands at 8.27%. Would that be the highest% for a manager thus far?
    Wanted to give Earl my vote, but I accidentally clicked ‘vote’, without Earl’s box checked. Murray got my vote instead :(

    (In an effort to correct my mistake, I found out that, unlike Chicago, one cannot ‘vote early, and often’ on this site…..damn.)

    • I went with Weaver, breaking my own rule of not voting for managers. That left Murray out, which I feel bad about but I just think Earl Weaver was that good. Ripken, Brooks, Palmer, Weaver.

    • Connie Mack made it on to the A’s Mt Rushmore (10.56% of the vote). I voted for Weaver as well. I don’t think any other non-players have done better than Weaver off the top of my head and I’m not sure we’ll see any more — it takes the right combination of not having 4 clear-cut amazing players plus also having a non-player who really was a face and a force in the franchise.

    • Maybe we’ll have special rules when we get to the Chi Sox. Pay Andy enough and you can have multiple votes, pay him even more and some of your opponents will be eliminated. Don’t pay him enough and you better pack your instrument case for San Diego.

    • Jim, that was suggested above and is certainly not the worst idea ever.

      You could also go with Brooks, Ripken, Grich and Murray and – heh heh – cover every base. I mean, that’s one hell of an infield, especially defensively.

  18. I wanted to vote for Veeck again (I voted for him with the White Sox) and indeed would have had he succeeded in forcing the Cardinals out of St. Louis. Since he didn’t, I’ll go with Ripken, Brooks, Palmer and Earl.

    Earl’s sound and fury (and his discussions with Thomas Boswell) were franchise defining, and he was the baseball mind of his generation. I also loved Mark Belanger, who I still maintain was better defensively than Ozzie.

    • Veeck tried to force the Cardinals out of St Louis? Tell more!

      This post has gotten me thinking about those Orioles teams from 1969 to 1971. Man those were those good baseball teams. I was fortunate enough to see game 2 of the 1970 WS against the Reds, the only series they won out of the 3 attempts in those years, but they were very clearly the best team in baseball at that time.

      • When I was in grade school in the 1950s I came across a book in the school library, published in 1943 (there’s some irony for you) that had a chapter about each franchise’s greatest pennant winner. I still remember the title of the chapter on the Browns, “Close, but No Cigar,” in which the 1922 team was chronicled. They lost to the Yankees that year by one game, but if the BR-Ref pythagorean rating decided things they would have won by seven.

        Several thoughts come to mind: If they had won that pennant would the history of the franchise have changed over time for the better, enough to keep them in St. Louis? Would the Cardinals, not the Brownies, actually have had to leave town as a result? Would the chronicler have chosen the 1944 wartime winners in preference to the far superior 1922 squad if he had written the book a couple of years later? Do they still write books of that type for kids?

        • The Browns benefited from a 23 game home stand to close out the 1922 season. They went 16-7 but ultimately ended up a game short.

          That key series of that home stand was a 3 game set with the Yankees on Sep 16-18. The Browns took the first two games to pull within a half game of New York, and took a 2-1 lead into the 9th inning of the 3rd game, but couldn’t hold it as the Yanks pulled off a 3-2 comeback win that would turn out to be the difference in the race. (Reliever Hub Pruett came into the game to start the 9th, just like a modern-day closer. However, unlike today’s closers, Pruett got the hook in favor of Urban Shocker when he allowed the first two batters to reach base.)

          That series drew 93,000 to Sportsman, more than some of the Browns seasons. The place must have really been rockin’, for one of the few times in the Brownies sorry history.

          • When I was a kid, writers for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Globe-Democrat (mainly Bob Broeg and Bob Burnes) would periodically get nostalgic for the “Old Brownies,” and talk about the 1922 team, in particular. In addition to Sisler, they had an outstanding outfield consisting of Jack Tobin, Ken Williams and Baby Doll (now there’s a nickname) Jacobson. Sisler hit .420, led the league in stolen bases, and Ken Williams led in homers (39) and RBI (155).

        • I think the Browns letting Branch Rickey go to the Cardinals in 1920 was a bigger reason than the 1922 pennant that the Cardinals ended up owning St. Louis. He built the “captive” farm system for the Cardinals and the teams that understood and used that innovation (the Cardinals, the Yankees), thrived for the next 25 to 30 years (and beyond). The teams that didn’t (like the Browns) eventually were run out of town.

      • Veeck described his goals and strategy in “Veeck, as in Wreck,” one of the best baseball books ever. He was counting on exploiting the stupidity of the Cards’ owner, Fred Saigh. Veeck describes various clever tactics he used and the progress he had made in his campaign when Saigh completely screwed up the plan by going to jail and selling the Cardinals to August Busch and his endless bankroll.

    • Belanger indeed may have been a better defensive SS than Ozzie, but his career wasn’t quite long enough (2,573 to 2,016 games) to earn in the general public’s mind the title “Greatest Defensive Shortstop of All-Time”.

      I know many people here don’t like WAR, but Rfield does make a case for Belanger’s defensive peak (six best years) being better:

      BELANGER: 32, 27, 26, 26, 24, 24
      OZZIE:… 32, 21, 21, 20, 18, 16

      It is logically inconsistent that because Ozzie was a better hitter, he was able to play longer and increase his defensive reputation. I don’t know how to get around that inconsistency, though. Rfield divided by innings played?

      • Belanger, of course, played on all grass/dirt infields until relatively late in his career, and did so back when baseball fields were less meticulously manicured and more all-purpose, especially during the late summer/early fall when several of them hosted football games. (I remember seeing the Cubs at Wrigley Field a couple of days after the Bears had played on it; my high school field never looked so bad.)

        Ozzie was quick and acrobatic and the avatar SS on artificial turf – he was born for the highlight reel – but I thought Belanger was more well-rounded defensively.

  19. Brooks , Palmer, Ripken and Weaver — Maybe Brooks wasn’t the second best 3rd baseman ever, but he sure was fun to watch on defense; and I think I’d rather have him on my team than any other except Schmidt – he made the people around him better — not something you could say about Palmer – who , if someone else called him an egotistical jerk, that someone would not be likely to get into a fistfight with me but he could sure pitch. Easiest call is Weaver — one of the very few managerial greats of the game – Not so much for “in game” stuff , like the recently departed and not-much-lamented TLR; but he could work with his front office to get winning skills cheap (defense, pitchers who threw strikes , and patience at the plate, fill in an intelligent lineup card, and let the players play. Sad to leave out Murray , But if you ask yourself whose loss would have hurt the franchise more, you have to lean to Weaver

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