Machado is starting AL shortstop for All-Star Game as lone Oriole rep; Markakis, Cruz and Hader all get All-Star nods - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Machado is starting AL shortstop for All-Star Game as lone Oriole rep; Markakis, Cruz and Hader all get All-Star nods

I guess technically we could make this All-Star story about the Orioles and what they didn’t do in 2014.

We’ll get to that in a moment.

First to the good news for the team: Shortstop Manny Machado received the highest number of votes at his position and will start in the All-Star Game for the second time in his career. He’ll be the lone Orioles representative at next Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.

That is, assuming he’s still an Oriole at that point. Machado, who turned 26 this week, is the biggest name on the MLB trade block with the July 31 non-waiver deadline looming.

If Machado is traded by the Orioles to an American League team before next Tuesday, he could still start at shortstop for his new club. However, if he is sent to the National League, he would be ineligible to play in the game, but he would be introduced to the crowd. Major League Baseball does not have to replace Machado with an Orioles’ representative if he were traded before Tuesday.

No matter who he’s with, Machado deserved the starting nod after hitting .313 with 21 homers and 60 RBIs in 88 games for the Orioles. It’s his fourth All Star Game nomination, second start and first as a shortstop.

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He switched to the position this year after six seasons at third base – where he started in the 2016 Midsummer Classic. This year, Machado received 1,740,645 votes to beat out Houston’s Carlos Correa (1,684.,016), who finished second for AL shortstop.

This is the second consecutive year that the Orioles will have one All Star; last year second baseman Jonathan Schoop was the club’s lone rep.

There are a few former Orioles that made this year’s squad – including two who helped lead the 2014 Orioles to a division title.

After making the American League Championship Series that season, the Orioles didn’t re-sign veteran leaders Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz because the club, for various reasons, didn’t want to offer four years to either player.

Cruz was 34 at the time, and he’d be 38 at the end of a four-year deal. And Markakis was headed for neck fusion surgery and his power numbers had stagnated.

So, the Orioles passed on both, preferring to offer three-year deals, which were topped by the Seattle Mariners (Cruz) and Atlanta Braves (Markakis).

Fast forward four years, and Cruz, a reserve, and Markakis, a NL starting outfielder, are 2018 All Stars in the final seasons of their current contracts.

This is the sixth AL All-Star Game for Cruz and fifth selection since 2013.

The 34-year-old Markakis is making his first All-Star Game in a 13-season career, the first nine of which were played in Baltimore.

Markakis, who is having a resurgent season in Atlanta (.322 average, .389 on-base percentage, .490 slugging percentage, 10 homers and a league-best 113 hits) was the top-vote getter among NL outfielders with 3,556,469 votes. He was second overall in the NL, behind his teammate, first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Another All Star of note from a local perspective: Milwaukee reliever Josh Hader, who graduated from Old Mill High School and was drafted by the Orioles in the 19th round in 2012. He was dealt to the Houston Astros on July 31, 2013 in a trade that brought Bud Norris to the Orioles. Two years later, Hader was part of a package that the Astros sent to the Brewers for Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez.

Hader, 24, is 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA and seven saves in 29 games for the Brewers. He has struck out 83 batters and walked 18 in 44 2/3 innings.

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