Selection process complicates All-Star chances

Selection process complicates All-Star chances
June 23, 2013, 9:00 am
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Orioles fans are excited, and rightfully so, to see that four players are leading at their positions in All-Star Game voting.

Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis would be starters if the voting ended on Saturday. Two others, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters, are second at their positions.

The excellent results are due to the team’s outstanding performance over the last season-and-a-half and an effective marketing campaign by the team.

On July 6, the final voting and the reserves for the team will be announced, and while excellent cases could be made for having as many as eight—or even nine Orioles on the American League All-Star team, it’s more likely that only one, or perhaps two players will be added.

In 1997, six Orioles: Roberto Alomar, Brady Anderson, Jimmy Key, Mike Mussina, Randy Myers and Cal Ripken were on the team. Alomar, Anderson and Ripken were all voting in. The pitchers were picked by AL manager Joe Torre.

With this year’s addition of Houston to the American League, there are 15 teams, and each team must be represented.

Three years ago, the Orioles’ representative was Ty Wigginton, who was batting .252 at the time of the All-Star Game.

Other teams will have their own Wiggintons this year, and as a result, several deserving Orioles will watch the game on television.

Machado, Wieters, Jim Johnson, Chris Tillman and perhaps even Nate McLouth could be considered for the team, which will be managed by Detroit’s Jim Leyland.

There’s no question that Machado is an All-Star. He just happens to be compared with the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, the reigning Triple Crown winner, who has more than doubled his vote.

Machado will celebrate his 21st birthday on the day the teams are announced. What better way to mark it by being in New York, where the game will be held 10 days later?

Wieters, who was named to the team for the first time a year ago, is also worthy. He trails Minnesota’s Joe Mauer in the voting.

The Orioles’ catcher’s All-Star quest may be thwarted by Salvador Perez. The Kansas City Royals will have to have a representative, and Perez, their catcher, is a contender.

Former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie, who is 7-5 and left fielder Alex Gordon could also be candidates, and they could block Tillman and McLouth.

Johnson, who went last year, and despite some hiccups last month, is tied for the league lead in saves with Mariano Rivera. Both have 26, and Johnson is ahead of last year’s pace when he led baseball with 51.

There are only five American League pitchers with more wins than Tillman’s eight. He’s tied with three others, all of whom have been to multiple All-Star Games: CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander. Hernandez is a likely representative of the Seattle Mariners.

The Oakland Athletics, who are leading the AL West, are an underpublicized team. They play in arguably baseball’s worst ballpark, the only team left that has to share its facility with an NFL team, and their games are poorly attended.

The Athletics will have to have multiple representatives: Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie are both batting over .300. Bartolo Colon is 10-2, and Grant Balfour has 18 saves. It’s likely that Leyland will choose at least two, perhaps three of Oakland’s players to join the team at Citi Field on July 16.

The NFL, NBA and NHL don’t require an All-Star from every team. Baseball has its share of charming one-time All-Stars, the Ty Wiggintons, who don’t really deserve to be there, but are there because the All-Star Game isn’t a strict meritocracy.

As a result, the diminutive Jose Altuve, the Astros’ second baseman, will probably get a trip to New York, and the resulting bonus while maybe an extra deserving Oriole doesn’t.