As the end of the decade approaches (unless you are one of those "the decade starts with 2011!" folks, in which case you are wrong) there have been a veritable bevy of "All-Decade" lists. Since this is Baltimore, I decided to do some of my own, starting with the All-Decade team for the O's.
You can either take this as an overly depressing reminder of how bad the '00s were for the O's*. Or, you can see it as proof that the moves the franchise is making are bringing about a much brighter decade in the Twenty-Teens.
*When I posted this on OriolesHangout.com, I also did a very quick and dirty estimation using the WAR (wins above-replacement) numbers at FanGraphs.com. I came up with a total of 43 WAR for the team below, and with a replacement-level (meaning a player with abilities that can easily be found for the minimum salary on the free-agent market or in higher-level minor leagues) team being expected to win around 40 games, that means the team below would finish with somewhere around 83 wins. In other words, the best Orioles of the past ten years would likely still be a fourth-place team in our own division.
Catcher: Ramon Hernandez
Started three years, 383 total games. Averaged .264 with 47 home runs and a 97 OPS+.
Only four catchers caught more than 100 games for the Orioles in the 2000s - Hernandez, Javy Lopez, Brook Fordyce, and Geronimo Gil. Ramon caught 54 more games, or 1/3 of a season, more than Lopez, and with a better defensive reputation. That, along with his bat, fell throughout his time in Baltimore, however.
Matt Wieters is fifth on the list with 97 games caught, for the record.
First Base: Jeff Conine
Started three-plus years, 612 total games. Averaged .288 with 57 home runs and a 110 OPS+*.
It basically came down to Conine and Kevin Millar. Conine played almost 200 more games with the Orioles in the decade, 84 more at first base, and had better offensive numbers across the board.
Second Base: Brian Roberts
Started seven years, 1135 games. Averaged .284 with 77 home runs and a 105 OPS+.
There is no other contender. A candidate for Most Valuable Oriole for the 2000s.
Third Base: Melvin Mora
Started six years, 1256 games. Averaged .280 with 158 home runs and a 109 OPS+.
The only other Orioles to play 150 games at third base in the decade were Tony Batista and Cal Ripken. And I think I would even pick the Iron Man over Ol' Foot In The Bucket.
Shortstop: Miguel Tejada
Started four years, 619 games. Averaged .311 with 102 home runs and a 124 OPS+.
Just like the previous two, there is essentially no competition. Even if you take away points for Tejada's last year-plus in Baltimore and REALLY love Mike Bordick.
Left Field: Larry Bigbie
Starter one-plus years, 352 games. Averaged .271 with 31 home runs and a 96 OPS+.
Now we go in a complete opposite direction: winner by default. He played 258 games in left field for the Orioles. B.J. Surhoff played 236 games in left for the Orioles, but with very similar offensive numbers and, in his late 30s, nowhere near the defensive player.
Center Field: Luis Matos
Starter three-plus years, 494 games. Averaged .256 with 30 home runs and an 82 OPS+.
Had Adam Jones joined the Orioles even a single year earlier, this would be his place. As it is, Matos played far and away the most games (397).
Interestingly enough, going by UZR, Matos had the worst defense of any candidate: -4 UZR/150. Jones, Corey Patterson and even Melvin Mora were all significantly better.
Right Field: Nick Markakis
Starter four years, 626 games. Averaged .298 with 77 home runs and a 119 OPS+.
Markakis player almost 200 more games in right field than Jay Gibbons, with better defense, and overall better offensive numbers despite 150 fewer overall games. However, since we can't ignore his offensive numbers (and because this is my list and I've always liked the guy)...
Designated hitter: Jay Gibbons
Played 779 games. Averaged .260 with 121 home runs and a 101 OPS+.
Aubrey Huff played more games at DH, and had better offensive numbers. But Gibbons spent seven years with the team, and like I said, it's my list.
Mike Bordick (Utility Infield)
Played 258 games. Averaged .261 with 31 home runs and a 96 OPS+.
Adam Jones (Utility Outfield)
Played 251 games. Averaged .274 with 28 home runs and a 96 OPS+.
Javy Lopez (Backup Catcher)
Played 321 games. Averaged .293 with 46 home runs and a 112 OPS+.
Aubrey Huff (Pinch Hitter)
Played 415 games. Averaged .282 with 60 home runs and a 112 OPS+.
Two easy picks for the bench. Jones, as I said, was almost the center field choice and is already arguably the face of the franchise going into the next decade. Lopez had an argument for catcher, and he is far and away a better option than Fordyce or Gil. Charles Johnson had a hell of a 2000 season, but I can't give anyone a spot with only 82 games in the entire decade.
I really wanted to put Jerry Hairston in for utility infielder. I really, really did. However, despite playing many fewer games Bordick's offense was so much better, and he played such good defense, that I couldn't do it. In Huff's case, it came down to him versus Millar. They both played almost the same number of games, but Huff was significantly better offensively, and is the guy I would rather have if I needed a run late in the game. He also has the advantage of being able to play more positions than Millar.
Seven seasons, 111 starts. 3.83 ERA, 2.52 K/BB and a .541 W%.
Three seasons, 89 starts. 4.15 ERA, 2.01 K/BB and a .443 W%.
Five seasons, 141 starts. 4.72 ERA, 2.19 K/BB and a .508 W%
Six seasons, 160 starts. 4.84 ERA, 1.80 K/BB and a .453 W%
Five seasons, 146 starts. 5.05 ERA, 1.36 K/BB and a .449 W%
Seven starting pitchers this decade had at least 35 decisions. The five above, Jason Johnson and Jose Mercedes. I left out those two because Mercedes had far fewer starts than most of the others, and although Johnson had more than Guthrie, his ERA in the decade was almost .6 runs higher.
This also, in my mind, is a better overall fit for the entire decade. It has the best starter early in the decade (Lopez), in the middle (Bedard) and at the end (Guthrie), along with the two guys who had the highest expectations and received the most chances, but ultimately failed.
Jorge Julio (Closer)
281 games, 4.20 ERA. 83 saves, 1.40 WHIP, 1.36 K/BB.
B.J. Ryan (Setup)
404 games, 3.57 ERA. 42 saves, 1.31 WHIP, 2.39 K/BB.
Chris Ray (Setup)
191 games, 4.11 ERA. 49 saves, 1.37 WHIP, 2.06 K/BB.
Buddy Groom (LOOGY)
330 games, 3.91 ERA. 1.29 WHIP, 2.94 K/BB.
120 games, 3.70 ERA. 1.37 WHIP, 2.13 K/BB
177 games, 4.02 ERA. 1.40 WHIP, 1.45 K/BB.
153 games, 4.52 ERA. 1.70 WHIP, 1.18 K/BB.
Julio gets the nod over Ryan as the closer for two reasons. First, and least important, he was the official "closer" longer than Ryan was. Second, I would rather have Ryan in the seventh- and eighth-inning jam and let Julio get the three outs with the three-run lead. Honestly, though, this would end up more like a closer-by-committee situation, with Ray as the other setup guy.
Buddy Groom was, other than Ryan, the best one-out lefty the Orioles had in the 2000s. Williams and Parrish were the next two leaders in games-pitched. Johnson had fewer games-pitched than some others, however there were several bunched around him and he has pitched so well since coming back up as a reliever he adds balance later in the decade to the 'pen.
So that's my team. If I left someone obvious off, or if you disagree with any specific choice, please feel free to discuss it below.