Carroll County Times

Orioles Analysis: Birds aplenty at this year's All-Star Game

The Baltimore Orioles earned three All-Star selections last season, which snapped a six-year run of having only one representative.
Having one All-Star, in layman's terms, usually means you're one of the also-ran teams in the league. That wasn't the case for the Orioles a year, and it's certainly not the case now.
Baltimore hasn't had an all-star starter since 2005. That's going to change, too.
When the Midsummer Classic gets underway July 16 at Citi Field in New York, AL fans should be seeing their share of orange. And it could be the most Baltimore all-stars in more than 15 years.
The voting ends Thursday night, so let's take a look at which Orioles players you should be watching play for the AL All-Star team.

Adam Jones. Entering the weekend, Jones led all outfielders in all-star voting, edging out Angels stud Mike Trout for the lead. Here's why - Jones is near the top of the league in several offensive categories; he came into Friday's game batting .296 with 15 home runs, 22 doubles, and 55 RBIs. Sure, he hardly ever walks (eight bases on balls against 65 strikeouts). But do you think fans want to see their all-stars taking pitches?
Chris Davis. Never mind starting at first base for the AL squad.
Davis is being tabbed by some as the MVP if the season ended today. Davis led the league, as of Friday, in home runs (28), total bases (202), slugging percentage (.712), and on-base plus slugging (1.120).
Those are numbers worthy of an all-star start. And maybe he'll treat fans to a Home Run Derby spectacle while he's in the Big Apple.


Good candidates
J.J. Hardy. His statistics aren't glowing - as of Friday, he was hitting .265 with 15 homers and 46 RBIs - but Hardy has picked things up at the right time of the season for all-star voting. Jose Reyes hasn't played enough games to really be considered, guys like Detroit's Jhonny Peralta and Oakland's Jed Lowrie have decent batting averages but not much else, and Hardy is the clear-cut power-hitting shortstop in the AL.
Hardy had a sizable lead on Peralta in last week's voting update.
Nick Markakis. Another case of the votes dictating the story, with Markakis (.284, eight HR, 42 RBIs) sitting third in the voting at last week's update. He could easily be passed, however, by the likes of Toronto's Jose Bautista and Detroit's Torii Hunter. Markakis' consistent season seems to be earning its rewards.
Jim Johnson. He's the league leader in saves as of Friday (27), and AL manager Jim Leyland would seem foolish not to load up his bullpen with the best closers. Johnson is certainly one of them, his handful of blown saves notwithstanding.
If George Sherrill can factor into all-star history, Johnson deserves a shot this year once again.
Matt Wieters. OK, so his batting average was at .230 entering the weekend, and he had only 10 homers and 39 RBIs.
But catchers are a commodity, particularly for all-star rosters. Minnesota's Joe Mauer is a mainstay, but he's not going to catch the entire game.
And if we see the dreaded extra innings, expect the rosters to be utilized to its fullest. Wieters will be there in some fashion.

Likely left off
Nate McLouth. The Orioles left fielder and former all-star found himself sixth in the voting, mostly because of his 24 stolen bases (second in the AL as of Friday).
He's sure-handed with the glove, which might not mean much in all-star speak. Unless you're the fan that reminds people that the game means more these days, with the winner earning home-field advantage for the World Series for their league.
Manny Machado. From the looks of things, Machado is in line to be the odd-man out at third base. It's a given Miguel Cabrera is the starter, what with contending for another Triple Crown and all. Machado's penchant for hitting doubles (36, tops in baseball, entering Friday) and his sparkling defense have garnered national attention.
But he was a distant second to Cabrera in the voting, and unless Leyland gives him a nod, Machado might get pushed out for another veteran names as a reserve.


Not this year
Chris Tillman. The Orioles' new ace has a shot to make a final impression in early July, but his June numbers (5-0, 2.61 ERA in June entering tonight's game) speak for themselves. Tillman is 9-2 with a 3.72 ERA and 75 strikeouts.
Expect Leyland to throw a few of his Tigers pitchers into the mix, and rightfully so with guys like Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, but Tillman has a shot to join the all-star lineup.