Even though no Orioles players were voted in by the fans to start next week’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati, the O’s could be well-represented on the American League roster when pitchers and position player reserves are announced tonight.
Third baseman Manny Machado – who turns 23 today – has to be considered the most likely Orioles player to be named to the AL squad. Machado is off to the best start of his career, hitting .299/.356/.522 with 17 homers and 46 RBIs.
After two stolen bases on Sunday, Machado has a team-high 13 steals and is a legitimate 30-30 candidate. He also leads the team in on-base percentage (.356), 52 runs scored and 18 doubles. Machado has drawn a team-high 30 walks.
And we haven’t mentioned the exemplary defensive plays he makes at third base, despite 12 errors on the season.
Coming off a second straight season-ending knee surgery, Machado is the early favorite for Most Valuable Oriole. He’s embraced the leadoff spot – a big question mark for the Orioles – and tailored his game around it, determined to draw walks and be a threat on the basepaths.
This time last year, left-hander Zach Britton was less than two months into his career as a closer. He has converted 23 of 24 save opportunities this season. He is second in the AL in saves, trailing Minnesota’s Glen Perkins’ 27 saves.
Britton has converted 19 straight save opportunities and has recorded 17 scoreless outings in his last 19 games. His 1.82 ERA is third lowest among AL closers, behind Yankees left-hander Andrew Miller (1.03) and Perkins (1.31).
He is deserving of his first career All-Star Game nod, but since every team must have at least one representative in the game, sometimes bullpens don’t include the league's best relievers.
Then there’s center fielder Adam Jones, who has been to the All-Star Game the past three seasons. Jones’ stats don’t explain his importance to the Orioles, but they’re average compared to normal Jones standards. He’s hitting .286/.334/.464 with 10 homers and 38 RBIs through the 82-game mark. By comparison, Jones hit .305/.329/.500 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs through 82 games last season.
Obviously, Jones' numbers have been affected by the right shoulder injury that cost him eight games. He also missed two games with a left ankle sprain. Before this season, Jones missed just five games over the 2012 to '14 seasons.