Neal Shaffer: The top five players of the losing era

If there’s one thing the Internet loves, it’s a list. So, what the hell, I’m game.

I got to thinking, after the recent unveiling of the Frank Robinson statue at Camden Yards, about great Orioles of the past and how cool it is to be able to look back on their legacies and claim them for our city. That, naturally enough, led to thinking about the modern Orioles.

History looks more kindly on success than on failure, which tends to obscure the achievements of players who toil on losing teams. The Orioles haven’t had a player on the level of Frank Robinson in a while but they’ve still had some quality guys who deserve their due. Since every era should at least partially be evaluated on its own terms, I figure it’s worthwhile to spend some time thinking about the best Orioles of the past 14 (losing) years.

Here’s my top five:

Brian Roberts

I’ve written a few times over at The Loss Column about what a shame it is that Roberts never got the chance to play on a winning team. He’s not a world-class player but he is (was?) a well-above-average major leaguer who deserves better than he got.

Miguel Tejada

Tejada’s Baltimore legacy is mixed because of his questionable (at times) attitude and his presence on the periphery of steroid scandals. But the guy did some great things on the field in Baltimore. You can’t name many better than him in the losing era.

Melvin Mora

Classic good soldier right here. This guy showed up and produced. A worker who deserves to be recognized.

Nick Markakis

I’m not entirely confident that Markakis’ best days are ahead of him rather than behind him. He has a place on this list for what he’s done and what I hope he may still do.

Adam Jones

Premature? Not at all. Jones is the future of this team. He’s that rare dynamic mix of on-field performance and off-field personality that pretty much every team craves. This is the guy, folks. Failing to lock him up long-term would be a gigantic mistake.

So, now, two things:

First, what’s your Pick Five for great Orioles of the Losing Era?

Second, stay tuned for next week’s list: Top five (maybe six) players who define the losing era. That’ll be a fun one.

Neal Shaffer regularly blogs about the Orioles at The Loss Column, and his work appears here as part of’s initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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