Orioles' All-Time 9 races heating up

Orioles' All-Time 9 races heating up

BALTIMORE -- Brooks Robinson. Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray. And who else? Baltimore fans have a chance to vote for the best individual players in franchise history as part of the MLB.com All-Time 9 promotion. The list includes icons and idols, players that have defined the Orioles and their success over the past five decades.

Robinson will have to be voted over players like Melvin Mora, and Ripken will have to reign over Miguel Tejada and Luis Aparicio. Murray will have Boog Powell and Rafael Palmeiro at his position, which could make for an interesting debate. And there's Frank Robinson and Brady Anderson in the outfield, along with a host of other choices.

More than 4.1 million votes have been cast since the 9/9/09 debut of the "All-Time 9s," a platform for fans to debate the greatest single-season performances for all 30 Major League franchises. The voting marks the start of MLB.com's Lineup Card campaign, a gathering place for the posting and never-ending discussion of the greatest past and present lineups.

Here's a look at how Baltimore's closest races are shaping up:

Javy Lopez may only have been with the Orioles for a short time, but he put up one of the best offensive seasons for a catcher in the team's long and storied franchise history. Lopez is neck-and-neck with career Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles, who started for Baltimore for eight seasons and was recently named to the team's Hall of Fame.

Brian Roberts, the second-longest tenured member of the current Orioles team, will see most of his competition from fellow switch-hitter Roberto Alomar. Alomar was an Oriole for three seasons and an All-Star in all three of them. Roberts, meanwhile, was drafted and developed by Baltimore and has been to two All-Star Games.

Perhaps the most interesting race will come down to designated hitter, where Aubrey Huff and Harold Baines stand as the main competitors. Baines, a Baltimore-area native, finished with nearly 2,900 hits and is regarded as one of the best designated hitters of all time. Huff, meanwhile, won the Silver Slugger Award for his best season with the Orioles.

In the outfield, there's a three-way race to join Robinson and Anderson. Nick Markakis, Ken Singleton and Albert Belle stand as the most likely options to round out the outfield, but the fans will have their say.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.