NEW YORK – For the first time in 16 years, the Orioles will have three elected starters in baseball's annual All-Star Game — the most of any team in the majors — and will have a total of four players on the American League team for the first time since 2005.
First baseman Chris Davis, who led all players with 8,272,243 votes, shortstop J.J.Hardy and center fielder Adam Jones were elected by the fans for the first times in their careers and will start the annual exhibition July 16 at Citi Field in New York.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who turned 21 Saturday and hasn't played a full season in the majors, finished second in the fan voting at third base to the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, the reigning AL Most Valuable Player, but was named as a reserve. Davis and Machado will be making their first appearance in the Midsummer Classic, Hardy his second and Jones his third.
“I mean it's crazy,” said Machado, who leads the big leagues with 39 doubles. “It's crazy what I've been through my first year in major league baseball, making the playoffs last year, just having two months into the league and obviously now making the All-Star [team] and having such good success right now.”
The Orioles, who fell to third place in the American League East with a loss to the New York Yankees on Saturday, have not had three All-Star starters since third baseman Cal Ripken Jr., outfielder Brady Anderson and second baseman Roberto Alomar were elected in 1997.
No other AL team had more than one starter elected this year; three teams in the National League have two starters.
“It's going to be awesome, having that many guys, especially three starters,” said Jones, who was an All-Star in 2009 and 2012, but has never started. “You're going to see some of the cornerstone positions, first [base], center field and shortstop, will have O's across their chest. I think that's a pretty strong statement ... from a baseball standpoint.”
Jones outstripped Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels for the most votes for any AL outfielder, receiving 6,793,577. He joins Hall of Famer Frank Robinson (1970-1971), Ken Singleton (1981) and Anderson as the only outfielders in Orioles history to be voted to an All-Star team by the fans.
“I think, for me, it's more humbling,” Jones said. “It's almost 5 million votes that have been tallied for myself. That's humbling. I know Birdland has been very, very strong in voting this year.”
The last time the Orioles had an elected starter was in 2005, when Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts earned nods from the fans. The Orioles had four All-Stars that year as well, with closer B.J. Ryan and third baseman Melvin Mora joining Tejada and Roberts. From 2001 to 2011, the Orioles had only one All-Star in each year but 2005. Last season they had three.
“I'm proud of our guys,” said Davis, who leads the majors with 33 home runs. “It just says a lot about what we've got going on here. We are obviously headed in the right direction. And the fact that everybody is starting to take notice means a lot.”
In 1970, the Orioles had a franchise-record seven players named as All-Stars and four starters: outfielder Frank Robinson, first baseman Boog Powell, pitcher Jim Palmer and second baseman Davey Johnson. Only Powell and Robinson were elected, however. So this year's squad actually has more starters elected by the fans than that powerhouse team.
“I think with what we did last year, I think really people are starting to notice what we did this year,” said Hardy, who was an All-Star reserve with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007 but has never made the AL squad. “It's awesome for all the guys on this team. That just shows the fans are showing their support.”
The news Saturday was bittersweet, however, because the Orioles were hoping they would have even more representatives. Right fielder Nick Markakis had been the third-highest vote-getter among outfielders — three are elected to start — until he was passed by Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista last week. Markakis has never made an All-Star team.
In the end, Bautista, a former Oriole, had 3,999,631 votes to Markakis' 3,783,189.
“Had a tough conversation with Nicky, and he responded just as I thought he would,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “[Markakis] said, ‘I'm real happy for the guys and they should get it.' It's more about where we end up as a team.”
Jones said not having Markakis join him was a disappointment, but he is holding out hope Markakis, who is hitting .288 with eight homers, 43 RBIs and 52 runs scored could be added as an injury replacement.
“Me, personally, I wanted Markakis. You all know him, he doesn't care,” said Jones, who is hitting .290 with 15 homers and 59RBIs. “But he's a guy who has put up numbers in his career. He plays every single day. He knows how to play the game. He's one of the best right fielders in the game to me. He just doesn't get the attention because that's not who he is.”
Catcher Matt Wieters, an All-Star the in 2011 and 2012; starter Chris Tillman, who has 10 wins; and closer Jim Johnson, who has 29 saves, were thought to be in consideration. None was named as a “Final Vote” candidate to be decided by additional fan voting this week. Wieters finished second at catcher and McLouth finished fifth among outfielders — testament to the “Vote Orange” events the Orioles had throughout the city in the past month that encouraged fans to fill out ballots.
Consequently, the Orioles are well represented — no other AL East team has as many as four All-Stars. The Boston Red Sox and Toronto each had three (including injured Boston pitcher Clay Buchholz, who has been replaced), the Yankees had two and the Tampa Bay Rays one. Boston, Toronto and the Yankees each have a candidate in the Final Vote. The last time the Yankees had just two All-Stars was in 1993. The Tigers led the majors with six selections.
“I think anytime you are getting that recognition not only from your fan base but from everybody across the nation, I think it feels good to know that people are watching,” Davis said. “I think what we did last year toward the end of the season really kind of opened people's eyes to the fact that there's some good baseball being played in Baltimore. And the fact that we have a number of guys going to the All-Star Game again this year just shows that we're doing something right.”