The All-Star Game isn’t until July 15, and there’s still plenty of time to cast votes. There are two Orioles, Nelson Cruz and Matt Wieters leading at their positions. Cruz will be going, Wieters won’t be.
Well, Wieters could go and make an appearance if the somehow continues to lead the voting at catcher even though he underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.
A year ago, Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Chris Tillman were All-Stars. None of them may be, but here are five who do have a chance.
1) Nelson Cruz
Cruz leads major league baseball in home runs (22) and RBIs (58). Those numbers are most impressive especially since Cruz didn’t homer for 14 games prior to Wednesday. In his previous 14 games, he had nine.
His hot May was enough to provide him a sizable lead among designated hitters. While David Ortiz is second, Cruz should be able to hang on and start at an All-Star Game for the first time. If not, he’s a certain to be chosen as a reserve.
2) Adam Jones
Jones is the only one of the five who represented the Orioles in last year’s game at New York’s Citi Field to have much of a chance this year.
He started in 2013 and has been to three, but Jones can never get enough of the All-Star Game experience.
Jones isn’t having an extraordinary season, but he is fifth among outfielders. He probably won’t be voted in, but a .290 average, 12 homers and 43 RBIs place him in the top 20 in each of those categories.
That may be enough to earn him a fourth trip.
3) Nick Markakis
It’s long since time that Markakis, possibly in his final year with the Orioles, went to an All-Star Game. He was in the news this week for his ascension on the team’s all-time hit list. Markakis passed Brian Roberts and Ken Singleton for sixth place, pretty heady stuff for a franchise celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
Markakis is batting .300, 12th among all American Leaguers, and he has nearly 1,500 hits in his career.
He has long said he doesn’t care if he’s picked for the All-Star Game and that he’d prefer to spend the time with his family.
“He actually would, but we’d rather he be at the All-Star Game,” manager Buck Showalter said on Wednesday when he was asked about Markakis.
Showalter was astonished that Markakis never has been to the All-Star Game. That drought should end this year.
4) Zach Britton
Last September the idea that Britton would be an All-Star possibility this year would have been laughable. But, Britton has made himself into an extraordinarily effective reliever.
Britton, who hadn’t a save until May 15, already has nine. His 0.72 ERA and 0.88 WHIP are phenomenal. He’s given up just one home run in 37 2/3 innings.
Picking relievers is tricky, and if Cruz, Jones and perhaps Markakis are taken, it’s hard to imagine the Orioles having four representatives.
5) Wei-Yin Chen
Chen is the unlikeliest of all to be a candidate, but he does have seven wins and just two losses. The All-Star pitchers won’t be selected for more than two weeks, but if Chen could break out of the pack of starters who have seven or eight wins by then, he could have a chance.
Hardy is in third place among shortstops, but he hasn’t hit a home run in more than nine months. His once steady play at shortstop has become uneven with seven errors in the past 14 games.
Davis was the overall voting leader last year when he was on the way to a franchise record 53 home runs. He missed 15 days due to a strained oblique and has just 12 homers, and he’s barely batting over .220. While Davis still has a good chance to best 30 home runs, he hasn’t created anywhere near the buzz he did in 2013.
Like Davis, Machado isn’t creating the same kind of buzz. Actually, the buzz he’s creating is the negative kind due to his bat throwing incident. Machado will have to serve a suspension before the All-Star Game, and while he, like Davis is in fourth place at his position, he has little chance of being selected as a reserve.
It also didn’t help that he missed the first half of the season recovering from last October’s knee surgery.
Tillman was a late add in 2013, and he’s not having the same success he did then. He’s 5-4 with a 4.82 ERA and isn’t even having the best year among Orioles starters.
Wieters has been to two All-Star Games, but never as the starter. It would be ironic if he were elected while unable to play.