Machado, Jones headline top O's of 2010s

December 20th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- For the Orioles, the 2010s included one of the winningest periods in franchise history, a stretch of sustained success unseen during the decades prior. The O's captured an American League-best 444 victories from '12-16, making three postseason appearances over that stretch.

Though the decade began and ended with less successful seasons, history will ultimately judge the Orioles of the 2010s on the achievements of their mid-decade core. It was largely a homegrown unit, with many key players drafted or developed (or both) by the club before thriving in Baltimore. That goes for many of the decade’s best performers, and the majority of those who earned a place on our list of O's best players of the '10s.

Lists like these can be controversial, and this is why we tried to take as much subjectivity out of this exercise as possible when conducting it. The best Orioles of the 2010s are ranked here by the Wins Above Replacement they compiled with Baltimore, as calculated by Baseball Reference. Enjoy, and let the debate begin.

1. (31 WAR)
Seasons: 2012-18

The third overall pick in the 2010 Draft, Machado debuted as a 19-year-old just two years later and quickly asserted himself as one of the Majors’ most precocious talents. By 2013, he was an All-Star -- his first of four selections -- MLB’s leader in doubles and arguably the top defender at any position.

Machado won two Gold Glove Awards, placed in the top five in AL Most Valuable Player Award voting twice and led the Orioles in slugging and OPS over the parts the seven seasons he spent in Baltimore. He was traded to the Dodgers for five prospects in July 2018 and signed a 10-year, $300 million free-agent contract with the Padres in February 2019.

2. (26.9 WAR)
Seasons: 2008-18

One of the most respected and popular players in franchise history, Jones served as the team’s unofficial captain and starting center fielder for nearly the entire decade. He earned five All-Star team selections, four Gold Glove Awards and a Silver Slugger Award over his 11 seasons in Baltimore before departing in free agency after the 2018 season. Jones left as the team’s decade leader in games played, hits, extra-base hits, RBI and total bases.

3. (16.6 WAR)
Seasons: 2009-16

By WAR, only one position player (Jason Heyward) taken in the first round of the 2007 Draft has had a more valuable career than Wieters, whom the Orioles chose fifth overall out of Georgia Tech.

He is also objectively one of the best catchers in O's history, ranking among the franchise’s leaders at the position in nearly every major statistical offensive category.

Wieters hit .252 with 108 homers and a .737 OPS over seven seasons this decade with the Orioles, also rating as one of the game’s top defensive catchers. He earned four All-Star selections in Baltimore.

4. (16.1 WAR)
Seasons: 2011-17

Brought in for spare parts in a Winter Meetings deal with the Twins in 2010, the hard-nosed, two-way talented Hardy became one of the Orioles’ best trade acquisitions of the decade. Hardy averaged more than 20 homers per season over his first four campaigns with the team, earning three Gold Glove Awards, a Silver Slugger Award and an All-Star team nod during that span. Injuries cut into the final three years of Hardy’s career, but he was at least a three-win player for four of his seven seasons in Baltimore, and he was a big part of the O’s playoff appearances in 2012, ’14 and ’16.

5. (14.7 WAR)
Seasons: 2011-present

Though Davis’ legacy will be significantly muddied by the severe decline in his production these last few years, he still makes this list for the accomplishments of his first few seasons in Baltimore. From 2012-16, Davis led all MLB hitters in homers, won All-Star and Silver Slugger Award honors and twice earned AL MVP Award votes. He ends the decade as the Orioles’ decade leader in home runs, and he is sixth on the franchise’s all-time ranks.

6. (11.5 WAR)
Seasons: 2012-18

The best Orioles teams of the 2010s were fueled by high-powered offenses, hence the first five names on this list. The first pitcher exemplified another strength: consistently lockdown bullpens that were full of previously lesser-known relievers whom the O's turned into stars. The prime example is O’Day, a 28-year old journeyman when the Orioles claimed him off waivers from the Rangers in '11.

The submariner emerged as a lockdown setup man for some of manager Buck Showalter’s most dominant ‘pens, going on to become the club’s decade leader in games and ERA (minimum 100 appearances). A 2015 All-Star, O’Day pitched to a 2.40 ERA over 391 games from '12-18, including sub-2.00 ERA seasons in '14 and ’15. O’Day was one of the toughest assignments right-handed opponents faced all decade, holding them to a collective .189 average against (seventh among full-time righty relievers in MLB in that span).

7. (11.5 WAR)
Seasons: 2013-18

One of the best players the Orioles have ever developed out of Latin America, Schoop signed as a teenager out of Curaçao and spent almost a full decade with the organization. He hit .261 with 106 home runs and a .747 OPS over parts of six big league seasons in Baltimore, earning All-Star honors in 2017. Schoop is the franchise’s all-time home run leader among second baseman and was a key member of the O's playoff teams of ’14 and ’16.

8. (11 WAR)
Seasons: 2011-18

The Orioles moved Britton to the bullpen in 2014, and he immediately thrived, anchoring the back end of the ‘pen for one of the most successful stretches of club history. From '14-16, Britton converted 120 saves and pitched to a 1.38 ERA, leading AL relievers in saves, save percentage, ground-ball rate and WAR.

Britton enjoyed one of the best seasons by a reliever in MLB history in 2016, when he pitched to a 0.54 ERA and 47 saves, finishing fourth in AL Cy Young Award voting. He recorded 139 saves from '14-18 with the O's, second most in franchise history.

9. (10.4 WAR)
Seasons: 2013-18

The fourth overall pick in the 2012 Draft, Gausman never developed into a frontline starter in Baltimore. Much of his value is wrapped up in volume; Gausman went 39-51 with a 4.22 ERA over 150 games (127 starts) from 2013-18. In terms of overall WAR, Gausman barely eked out Chris Tillman, the Orioles’ decade leader in wins and strikeouts, to earn a spot on this list.

10. (8.6 WAR)
Seasons: 2006-14

The Orioles' leading hitter in the 2010s, Markakis slashed .284/.350/.407 with 64 homers during the decade, which doesn't include his two best seasons in Baltimore. Those came from '07-08, after which Markakis remained a durable, steady lineup presence through '14. He also won two Gold Glove Awards over his nine seasons with the O's.