Over-under on O’s All-Star nods: Four
Major League Baseball announces its All-Star teams tonight on ESPN at 7 p.m. and multiple Orioles surely will make the American League squad.
Strangely, it’s now become a recent tradition: several Orioles at the All Star Game. From 2001 to 2011, only once did the Orioles have more than one representative at the Midsummer Classic: 2005, when they had four.
But since they escaped baseball’s wilderness in 2012, the Orioles have had at least three All Stars each year – including five in 2013. That streak should continue in 2016.
The Orioles have three slam dunks for inclusion on the AL team, and six others – yes, six — that deserve serious consideration. They won’t get nine, of course (they aren’t the Kansas City Royals). But four should be the over/under with five as a real possibility.
Here’s a look at the Orioles’ All Star chances:
3B Manny Machado
Thanks to an all-around tremendous first half, Machado was leading the popular vote by more than 600,000 over Toronto’s Josh Donaldson. And, despite some great performances at third base in the AL this year (while Machado played shortstop for a chunk of the first half), Machado should get the nod, which would be the third of his career. It also would be his first All Star start – days after his 24th birthday (which is Wednesday).
LHP Zach Britton
The Orioles have one of the best bullpens in baseball and Britton, the closer, is the linchpin. He converted his first 23 save chances and allowed just three earned runs in his first 34 appearances (0.80 ERA). The argument can be made that he is the league’s best closer. No way he can be left off his second straight AL All-Star roster.
RF Mark Trumbo
In the final release of voting numbers, Trumbo was trailing Boston’s Mookie Betts by roughly 114,000 for the third starting spot among outfielders. Trumbo was actually fifth, with the now-injured Lorenzo Cain of the Royals in fourth with about 20,000 more votes. Given the season he is having, among baseball’s leaders in homers and RBIs, Trumbo deserves to pass Cain and Betts, but won’t. Still, there’s no reasonable argument to leave him off the roster; it would be his second selection (2012).
1B Chris Davis
He may be a victim of the Orioles’ success, the depth of the position and his own low batting average. Still, among first base qualifiers, Davis leads the AL in homers, RBIs and WAR. Plus, he has been playing great defense. Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer will start, and it is hard to imagine Miguel Cabrera will be left off, so will Davis get the third spot for AL first basemen? I think so, but if not, he has to be among the five candidates for the fans’ final-player vote.
RHP Chris Tillman
At 10-2, he has one of the best winning percentages in baseball and he is the ace of a division leader. And that could get him his second All-Star selection. But he has allowed a total of 14 runs in his last three starts, pushing his ERA from 2.87 to 3.71. And that hurts. The good news is if he doesn’t make it, he’ll likely be waiting closely in the wings, and a couple starters traditionally bail out before the game, creating available spots. That helped Tillman in 2013.
C Matt Wieters
This one is tricky. Wieters is clearly having the second-best, all-around season among AL catchers behind Kansas City’s Salvador Perez, the unquestioned starter. He had the second-most votes, too, behind Perez and ahead of Toronto’s Russell Martin. But, knowing every team needs to be represented, reserve catcher is often a spot used to fill out that requirement. Strangely, the New York Yankees may be in that predicament, and if one of their shutdown relievers aren’t chosen, maybe Brian McCann, who leads AL catchers in homers, receives the honor.
RHP Brad Brach
The argument can be made that Brach has been the O’s first-half MVP. He has been used in various roles in the bullpen, from two-inning stints to closing out games when Britton wasn’t available. And he’s been excellent, especially filling in for injured set-up man Darren O’Day in the eighth innings of tight games. But non-closing relievers rarely get named to the All-Star Game. When they do, like O’Day last year, it’s usually a reward for dominance over several years.
CF Adam Jones
A rough start likely has pushed him out of consideration for his sixth All-Star selection – and so his streak of four straight has most likely come to an end. But a huge power display in June, coupled with his strong defense, could get him into the fan vote. And he is one of the more charismatic and popular players in the league. So if he gets to the final five, he could have a chance to keep his streak going.
2B Jonathan Schoop
His offensive numbers are All-Star worthy, especially at second base. But it is a position filled with bigger names – presumptive starter Jose Altuve as well as Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler – having good seasons, too. So Schoop likely will have to wait his turn.
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