55. Andy Etechebarren, Catcher
An all-star in 1966 and ’67, “Lurch” never turned out to be anything more than a run-of-the-mill Big League catcher–at least by statistical standards. During parts of 11 seasons with the Birds, Etchebarren only batted above .250 twice, and amassed double-digit home runs once. But offensive prowess isn’t why the fella that was affectionately ribbed for his ugly-looks is on this list. He contributed to two World Series and was a major factor in the success of what is regarded as one of the greatest pitching staffs in Major League history–especially the 1971 rotation that featured four 20-game winners.
54. Manny Machado, Third Baseman
Man-O-Man is Manny one of those special players that comes along once every couple of decades at-best. Machado, when it’s all said and done, may wind up in the top-five on this type of list. For now, however, he has a great deal to still prove–especially in regard to his ability to fully recover from a major injury. Machado, at the ripe age of 21, deserves to be part of this conversation simply for his immediate impact on a the playoff team of 2012 and the club’s reliance on him moving forward. It could be very possible that the Orioles’ long-term success hinges on Machado’s long-term success. In many ways, he’s that valuable to the present and the future.
53. Adam Jones, Center Fielder
One spot ahead of Manny is Bubble-Blowing-Free-Swinging-Adam Jones. A natural talent and pure showman, acquiring Jones and others for the price of pitcher Erik Bedard is already regarded as one of the best, albeit most lopsided trades, in Baltimore history. Jones, who recently inked a long-term deal, will be a mainstay in Baltimore and should certainly continue to make his mark on Oriole history–but for now, it remains to be seen if he can put a franchise on his back and lead it to the glory of October baseball; more importantly, the jury is out on whether he’s the leader he believes himself to be.
52. George Bamberger, Pitching Coach
Before there were gurus like Ray Miller and Leo Mazzone, Bamberger was the driving factor and unsung hero for an perennially dominant pitching staff in Baltimore. Over the span of nine years, he boasted 18 20-game winners. A feat that will likely never be matched at anytime in the near or distant future.
51. Chris Hoiles, Catcher
At first bluff, it might seem a little aggressive to place Chris Hoiles ahead of Etchebarren and Matt Wieters. A look back, however, will prove that to this point, Hoiles is arguably the best catcher in franchise history. A mainstay for nearly a decade, Hoiles belted double-digit homers in all eight of his full seasons in Baltimore. Defensively he was as average as they come, but his bat more than made up for any shortcomings on that side of the ball.