I had a good time writing my previous Fanpost, and I find myself yet again trying to procrastinate an assignment, so it seems appropriate that I write another one. This time I thought it’d be fun to take a slightly premature look at who may the representing the O’s at the All-Star Game in July. Last year, we sent Ty Wigginton to Anaheim to represent the O’s. Wigginton was originally slated to be a bat off the bench, but he received an increase in playing time once Brian Roberts went down with an injury. He made the most of his new role, becoming the O’s best hitter, although that really said more about the ineptitude of the team than it did about Wiggy’s hot start.
This year, as painful as it’s been at times to watch the O’s, there’s no denying that this year’s version of our team is better than last year’s. Coming into the year, many thought it would be the "proven veterans" that would bring the O’s some more wins. Unsurprisingly, our overpriced offseason acquisitions have not lived up to their contracts. Rather, it is some of the O’s young stars that are carrying the team, and these are the players who will receive consideration for the All-Star Game.
On the pitching front, none has been more solid for the O’s than Zach Britton this season. Britton has pitched to the tune of a 2.14 ERA to this point in the season, good for 5th in the AL. Voters are likely to look at this stat in particular, as well as his 5-2 W-L record. Despite a 5.03 K/9, Britton has been able to get AL batters out with a 55.6% groundball rate. Despite his success, Britton only ranks 22nd among qualified AL starters in WAR (1.0), 27th in FIP (3.64), and 27th in xFIP (3.75). Still, the average MLB fan won’t even know what these stats are, and Britton has a pretty good chance to make it to the ASG this summer.
Another Oriole who deserves some All-Star votes is CF Adam Jones, who is stepping up his game in nearly every facet this year. Jones has cut down on his K’s, striking out only 17.9% of the time this year, and he has also increased his walks to a modest 6.6% rate. His batting average has increased to .296 so far this year, best among AL CF’s, although it is partially due to luck – his BABIP is .326, while only 16.8% of his hits are going for line drives, so his BABIP is about .038 points higher than where it should be. However, as mentioned before, the average voter likely won’t take this into consideration. In addition, Jones’ OBP is 4th best among AL CF’s (.344), and his slugging is 3rd best (.451), good for a .352 WOBA. Jones has also has stepped up his defense this year, and is on pace for a +6.2 UZR/150, the best rate of his career (ironically, in his GG winning year, Jones had a UZR/150 of -8.2). All things considered, Jones’ 1.4 WAR is the 3rd highest among AL CF’s, and 7th among all AL OF’s, so Jones certainly has a case for making his 2nd ASG appearance.
Last but not least, none other than SHJ himself might find his way to Arizona to represent the O’s this summer. Matt Wieters has been one of the best catchers in the AL – his 1.4 WAR is tied for 2nd best, behind only Russell Martin. His +7.9 UZR/150 leads all AL catchers this season, but it doesn’t take a statistic to know that Wieters is likely the best defensive catcher in baseball, and that opposing teams "should not run on God"! Wieters has been no slouch with the bat either, especially by the standards for a catcher. The league average slash line for catchers is .227/.298/.366, while Wieters comes in at .279/.349/.419. Perhaps what’s most encouraging about Wieters is that, unlike Jones, his uptick in offensive production is not all that lucky. His LD rate this year 24.5%, up from 15.4% from last year, so even with a little regression, Wieters has certainly stepped it up this year, and his .321 BABIP is not luck-driven. It’d be nice to see his power increase with his batting average, but his improvements this year are good enough for ASG consideration.
Which Oriole is most likely to make the 2011 All-Star Game in Arizona?
Zach Britton (40 votes)
Adam Jones (22 votes)
Matt Wieters (82 votes)
Other - leave name in the comments =) (6 votes)
150 total votes