Cedric Mullins will be the Orioles’ representative in the 91st Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 13th at Denver’s Coors Field. It’s possible that the Orioles’ centerfielder, who fell all the way from Opening Day starter in 2019 to Double-A, might be a starter.
“I had confidence that I was going to be chosen to represent our team at the All-Star Game,” Mullins said. “It’s exciting. It’s an honor to have this opportunity.”
Los Angeles Angels centerfielder Mike Trout is on the 60-day injured list because of a calf injury but was chosen in the fan vote. Mullins finished sixth among American League outfielders.
“To make the team is a great honor in itself,” Mullins said. “But to be able to start, that would be something that would be almost unexplainable.”
Although Mullins will be the only Oriole on the team, Trey Mancini will participate in the Home Run Derby the night before the All-Star Game.
Mullins, who had a game-tying single and a home run in the ninth in Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Angels, is batting .318, and leads the American League with 101 hits. Mullins has 15 home runs, 32 RBIs and 22 doubles. He has stolen 15 bases in 19 attempts and his defense has been as good as his offense, including a number of outstanding catches.
“It’s awesome,” Mullins said of his selection. “I still haven’t been able to contact everyone I need to tell. Among my teammates and my coaches, it was awesome to be congratulated for it. We had a team meeting as soon as I walked in to make the announcement.”
Manager Brandon Hyde was happy to tell the whole team about Mullins’ achievement.
“It was a special moment,” Hyde said. “It felt really good to let him know in front of everybody that he was an All-Star, and [hoping] that he starts.”
In 2019, Mullins began the season as the centerfielder, but he appeared overmatched at the plate, going 6-for-46 (.094). The Orioles sent him to Triple-A Norfolk, where he continued to struggle. He was moved him back another level, to Double-A Bowie.
“After the 2019 season, [I knew] I was going to have some form of bounce-back,” Mullins said. “I think it was a testament to all the work that I put in and narrowed in what I needed to work on to be more consistent.”
In 2020, Mullins played much of the pandemic-shortened season with the Orioles, hitting .271 in 48 games with three homers and 12 RBIs. Near the end of the season, Hyde campaigned for Mullins to win the Gold Glove.
Mullins put in even more work during this past offseason, abandoning switch-hitting to become a full-time left-handed hitter. The results have been so good that Mullins has become the everyday centerfielder, a position it was thought he might share with Austin Hays.
“Anything out there, you just know there’s a chance for it to be caught,” said Thomas Eshelman, Sunday’s starting pitcher. “The entire team was so excited for him. Just really an exciting moment. Couldn’t happen to a better person.”
The Orioles put together an aggressive and inventive social media campaign to encourage fans to vote for Mullins. His teammates were supportive as well.
“That’s what really helped push my campaign for the All-Star bid,” he said. “It was a matter of going out every day and focusing on the day-to-day task, which was help the team get wins. I was able to perform really well the past few weeks.”
It’s the fourth straight year the Orioles have had only one representative. Starting pitcher John Means was chosen for the last All-Star Game in 2019.
“I don’t even know what to expect,” Mullins said. “It’s my first All-Star appearance. It’s a great feeling, and I’m excited to be among some of the top guys in baseball. I’m looking forward to see what happens.
“Just hoping to show what I’ve always done, someone who plays hard and makes something happen.”