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Orioles’ Cedric Mullins named to 2021 MLB All-Star Game: ‘It’s an honor that I have this opportunity’

When Cedric Mullins arrived at Angels Stadium before Sunday’s matinee series finale, the team convened a meeting to make official what has been obvious for weeks: he is an All-Star.

Mullins will be the team’s representative in the July 13 MLB All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver, completing a career resurrection that began two years ago when he was demoted to Double-A Bowie as part of a disastrous 2019 season.

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“It’s exciting,” Mullins said. “It’s an honor that I have this opportunity. I’m excited to go out there.”

Manager Brandon Hyde said: “We brought the whole team together in the clubhouse and I announced it in front of everybody. Special moment. Felt really good to let him know in front of everybody that he was an All-Star — and I’m hoping that he starts.”

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The Orioles’ star center fielder advanced to the second phase of All-Star voting after finishing in the top nine among outfielders but did not place in the top three of the final round of voting, meaning he was initially left out of a starting spot. However, Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout was voted a starter despite being on the long-term injured list.

Mullins said that if he’s chosen to replace Trout, that would take this honor to the next level.

“It’d be awesome,” Mullins said. “To make the team is a great honor in itself, but to be an All-Star starter, that would be something that’s almost unexplainable.”

Even as he missed out on the fan vote, Mullins’ inclusion on the All-Star team came through the player vote. At every other spot for the American League except for the outfield, the player who won the fan vote to start also appeared on the most player’s ballots. Mullins, however, appeared on 460 of the player ballots to top his position and secure a spot in the game.

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Mullins was meant to get the day off in Sunday’s series final against the Angels, but true to his All-Star form, he came off the bench for a pinch-hit single in the sixth inning and hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth of their eventual 6-5 loss.

He entered Sunday’s series finale against the Angels as one of the most productive hitters in all of baseball. Mullins’ 99 hits are tied for most in the American League, while his 15 steals are tied for second.

Including Sunday’s heroics, he’s batting .318 with a .932 OPS and 15. home runs. His 3.5 wins above replacement (WAR) according to FanGraphs was sixth-best in the American League entering Sunday. Every other position player to appear in a game for the Orioles has contributed a combined 2.4 fWAR this season.

The 26-year-old center fielder’s renaissance began last year in the second half of the shortened 2020 season. After struggling early in the year he returned from the secondary camp at Bowie as an injury replacement, Mullins took over the center field job with a better feel at the plate and Gold Glove-caliber defense in Hyde’s estimation.

Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins, hitting a fly ball against the Toronto Blue Jays June 18 in Baltimore, will be the team’s representative in the July 13 MLB All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver.
Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins, hitting a fly ball against the Toronto Blue Jays June 18 in Baltimore, will be the team’s representative in the July 13 MLB All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver. (Julio Cortez/AP)

Mullins ended the season knowing he had to keep working to improve, and the work he did was near-unprecedented. He decided to abandon switch-hitting and his right-handed swing and go full-time with his natural left-handed swing going forward. Few hitters in major league history have done so, but Mullins thrived with it.

He entered Sunday batting .307 with an .864 OPS in 111 plate appearances against left-handers. By comparison, he hit .147 with a .439 OPS in 111 plate appearances against left-handers as a right-handed batter entering this year.

Mullins continues a streak of seven All-Star Games in which a player the Orioles drafted or signed as an amateur was their representative, with left-hander John Means in 2019, shortstop Manny Machado in 2018, and second baseman Jonathan Schoop in 2017.

The Orioles will be well-represented over the All-Star week festivities with Trey Mancini, another of their All-Star candidates whose case cooled as his bat did in June, participating in the Home Run Derby on July 12. Top prospect Adley Rutschman and pitcher Marcos Diplán will also represent the organization in the MLB All-Star Futures Game on July 11.

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