Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

Greatest O’s Seasons

Posted by Mike on March 16, 2006

Since I rarely indulge in Orioles history here, I thought I’d take a look at some of the best offensive seasons in the history of the franchise.  All data used in this post was calculated based on numbers in the Lahman Database.

Let’s get some quick methodology out of the way.  The stat I will use is GPA, or Gleeman Production Average.  This can be calculated simply as ((OBP*1.8)+(SLG))/4.  I’ll be the first to admit that GPA is not perfect, but it is easy to work with and more accurate than something like OPS.  Of course 1.8 is not a perfect figure to represent OBP’s importance over SLG.  In fact, studies show that the relative importance of each fluctuates depending on context.  But, a point of OBP is always more important than a point of SLG and using a static figure is integral to getting this post done in one day.  GPA also does not account for things like offensive speed, but this is largely overrated anyhow.  In addition, only seasons in which the batter registered 300 AB’s or more were counted. I should also mention that I have made no attempt to adjust the numbers based on offensive eras or ballpark factors.

Out of the 426 qualified player-seasons in Orioles history, here are the top ten (offensively):

Rank (All-time)/Name/GPA/Year

  1. Jim Gentile .354 (1961)
  2. Frank Robinson .346 (1966)
  3. John Lowenstein .339 (1982)
  4. Brady Anderson .335 (1996)
  5. Chris Hoiles .332 (1993)
  6. Boog Powell .332 (1964)
  7. Melvin Mora .330 (2004)
  8. Frank Robinson .327 (1967)
  9. Ken Singleton .326 (1977)
  10. Boog Powell .325 (1970)

Jim Gentile at #1 over Frank Robinson’s triple crown year?  Well, yeah.  He had an OBP of .428 and hit 46 home runs in only 486 AB’s.

John Lowenstein at #3?  It helped that he platooned and barely qualified in terms of AB’s (322).  Still, very impressive.

Was Melvin Mora really that good in 2004?  Offensively- yes.  He just couldn’t catch the ball.

No Miguel Tejada?  He makes his first appearance all the way down at #51 (2004).  Miggy could be among the game’s elite hitters if he could take a walk at even an average clip.

Let’s look at it another way- out of the total sample of 426, here are where the qualifying hitters on the 2005 squad placed:

2005 Rank/Name/GPA/All-time Rank

  1. Brian Roberts .304 (#39)
  2. Miguel Tejada .287 (#74)
  3. Melvin Mora .276 (#118)
  4. Jay Gibbons .272 (#132)
  5. Rafael Palmeiro .276 (#156)
  6. Javy Lopez .260 (#198)
  7. Luis Matos .247 (#260)
  8. Sammy Sosa .228 (#349)
  9. B.J. Surhoff .218 (#373)

It’s true, B.J. Surhoff accomplished the unenviable task of beaing worse than Sammy Sosa.  I also suspect that some people will be surprised at the gap between Roberts and Tejada.  Well folks, that’s the value of not making an out in between extra base hits. 

Let’s take a look at a pair of players, their top GPA’s and where it ranks among the Orioles’ 426 player-seasons.

Cal Ripken (Year/GPA/All-time Rank)

  1. 1999, .313 (#28)
  2. 1991, .312 (#29)
  3. 1983, .298 (#55)
  4. 1984, .297 (#57)
  5. 1994, .280 (#95)

Miguel Tejada

  1. 2004, .299 (#51)
  2. 2005, .287 (#74)

As good as Miguel Tejada is, could it be any clearer how extraordinary Cal was?  In an era less known for prolific offense, especially among shortstops, Cal produced better offensive years than Tejada ever has (with the Orioles or otherwise).  I can only imagine how startling the contrast would be if I had the time (or inclination) to league-adjust these numbers.

Finally, let’s take a peek at the five worst offensive seasons ever by an Oriole:

All-time Rank (#1=Last)/Name/GPA/Year

  1. Willie Miranda .164 (1957)
  2. Kiko Garcia .174 (1980)
  3. Paul Blair .177 (1976)
  4. Billy Ripken .182 (1988)
  5. Mark Belanger .186 (1968)

Mark Belanger?  Check. 

My poker buddy Billy Ripken?  Check. 

Paul Blair?  Wait a second- wasn’t he good?  Nope- not at creating runs, anyway.  He made an out 70% of the time over his career, but his defensive reputation was enough to keep him employed for parts of four seasons after the travesty that Blair knew as 1976. 

That’s it for now, if you want to download the list of all Orioles player-seasons with 300+ AB’s and their GPA’s, go to my Spreadsheets and Charts page.  Feel free to tinker with it and try to come up with some fun ways of presenting the data.     




3 Responses to “Greatest O’s Seasons”

  1. Dave said

    Jim Gentile?! I’m very surprised.

  2. Greg said

    Perhaps the most striking thing about these lists is Eddie’s absence. Where does he fall?

  3. Mike said

    Rank/ Name/ Year/ GPA

    146/ murraed02/ 1977/ 0.269
    87/ murraed02/ 1978/ 0.282
    76/ murraed02/ 1979/ 0.286
    66/ murraed02/ 1980/ 0.290
    56/ murraed02/ 1981/ 0.297
    21/ murraed02/ 1982/ 0.315
    26/ murraed02/ 1983/ 0.314
    25/ murraed02/ 1984/ 0.314
    37/ murraed02/ 1985/ 0.305
    59/ murraed02/ 1986/ 0.295
    103/ murraed02/ 1987/ 0.278
    88/ murraed02/ 1988/ 0.282

    His best year was 1982- where he finished with the 21st best GPA in orioles history, but it looks like his peak carried through 1985 before his decline phase set in.

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