Greatest Seasons in O’s History: Shortstop

cal ripken pitching for baltimore orioles

The 2014 season will be a special one for the Baltimore Orioles, and not just because there are postseason dreams around Birdland. The O’s will celebrate 60 years in Baltimore, which presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on great players and memories since 1954.

In the spirit of the occasion I’ve decided to highlight some of the great individual seasons we’ve witnessed from 1954-2013. So far, we’ve looked at left fieldcenter fieldright field, and third base.

This week, we continue around the infield with shortstop.

 

Cal Ripken Jr., 1991

.323/.374/.566 – 99 runs, 46 doubles, 34 home runs, 114 RBI, AL MVP Award, Gold Glove Award

Many of Cal Ripken’s seasons were good. A few were great. In 1991, Ripken was legendary.

Manning a premier defensive position, Ripken led the American League in total zone runs with 23. He was tops among shortstops in putouts (267), assists (528), double plays turned (114), and fielding percentage (.986). By Baseball Reference’s defensive wins above replacement (dWAR), 1991 was Cal Ripken’s second best season with the glove (behind 1984) and he was the most valuable in the field of any AL position player that year.

Offensively, Ripken led the majors in total bases (368) and extra base hits (85). He was second in the AL in slugging percentage, hits (210), doubles, and runs created (134). He was also third in OPS+ (162 – career high), fourth in home runs, and seventh in RBI.

An interesting fact: Ripken struck out just 46 times in 650 at-bats. That’s the fewest of any season he played 160+ games (15 such seasons).

When you add everything together, you have one of the finest all-around seasons ever.  Ripken’s wins above replacement (WAR) in 1991 was 11.5. That’s the 11th best season for a position player in MLB history. Take out years by Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds, and it’s fourth highest behind Carl Yastrzemski (12.4 – 1967), Rogers Hornsby (12.1 – 1924), and Lou Gehrig (11.8 – 1927). Not bad company to be in.

Miguel Tejada, 2004

.311/.360/.534 – 107 runs, 40 doubles, 34 home runs, 150 RBI

After spending seven seasons with the Oakland A’s, Miguel Tejada came to Baltimore after the 2003 season. For the Orioles, Tejada was better in 2004 than he was in 2002, the year he won the American League MVP Award.

In his first season with the Orioles, Tejada set career-highs in RBI, slugging percentage, OPS+ (131), and total bases (349 – 3rd in AL).  His 150 RBI led the majors and are the most by an Oriole since 1954. Tejada’s 6.8 offensive wins above replacement (oWAR) was tops in the American League. He was also fourth in the AL in hits (203) and extra base hits (76), eighth in home runs and runs created (121), and ninth in doubles.

During All-Star Weekend, Tejada became the second Orioles player (Cal Ripken in 1991) to win MLB’s Home Run Derby with a total of 27.

Mark Belanger, 1975

.226/.286/.276 – 44 runs, 11 doubles, 3 home runs, 27 RBI, 16 stolen bases, Gold Glove Award

Picture 29

One look at the numbers above tells you Mark Belanger wasn’t in the lineup for his bat. By OPS+, 1975 was only his sixth most productive season at the plate. But since we’re looking at the greatest individual seasons, let’s focus on what he did with the glove that year, because it was spectacular.

Mark Belanger’s 1975 season ranks the best defensive season by a shortstop in Baltimore Orioles history. He paced the major leagues with 35 total zone runs. The next highest shortstop was at 18. The closest position player to him had 25.

Belanger’s dWAR that year was 4.9. That’s the fourth best in MLB history for a single season. Two of the seasons above him were by players in 1906 and 1917. The third was by Andrelton Simmons last year.

Who had the greatest season at SS in O's history?

Previous positions: Left FieldCenter FieldRight Field, Third Base

Next week: Second Base

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Hot off the street

Manny Machado or Jonathan Schoop?
Manny Machado or Jonathan Schoop?

The hot stove has been heating up the past couple of weeks with some minor O’s chatter about the likes of Jason Vargas, Tyler Chatwood and Andrew Cashner. Those acquisitions would do very little to ...read more

Do Andrew Cashner and/or Eduardo Nunez Excite You?
Do Andrew Cashner and/or Eduardo Nunez Excite You?

We're into mid-November now, and after one of the most exciting World Series in memory (maybe ever), we've been without baseball for what feels like eons. However, the Hot Stove season has yet to real...read more

Trey Mancini Named Rookie of the Year Finalist
Trey Mancini Named Rookie of the Year Finalist

O's rookie Trey Mancini got some good news tonight, as he was named a finalist for the BBWAA Rookie of the Year award. https://twitter.com/Orioles/status/927672846381387777 Mancini was a revelat...read more

In Addition to Pitching, O’s Must Address OBP Woes
In Addition to Pitching, O’s Must Address OBP Woes

https://twitter.com/idresurgence/status/679413880091762690?lang=en The Orioles' ongoing goal of finding a high-On Base Percentage corner outfielder continues as we officially enter the 2017-2018 of...read more

This Family Dressed as the Crab Shuffle for Halloween
This Family Dressed as the Crab Shuffle for Halloween

This family of O's fans has one of the most creative costumes I've ever seen come out of Birdland - they dressed as the Oriole Park at Camden Yards favorite, "The Crab Shuffle." Watch them go: h...read more

View More