Name: James Jerry Hardy
Drafted: 2nd round, 2001, Milwaukee Brewers
Became an Oriole: Traded to the Orioles on Dec 9, 2010 by the Minnesota Twins along with Brendan Harris for minor league pitchers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson.
How he got to the ASG: Voted to start by the fans
J.J. Hardy broke into the majors in 2005 at the age of 22. A strong defensive shortstop, Hardy played five seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers before being traded to the Minnesota Twins for Carlos Gomez. He spent 2010 with the Twins and put up a good, but not great hitting line. Despite his value as a player, the Twins didn't want to spend the money it would cost to keep him and they believed they had his replacement in Tsuyoshi Nishioka. And so they traded him to the Orioles for two relief pitchers in the minors who wouldn't amount to anything.
In Hardy's first year with the Orioles, 2011, he was simply outstanding. He hit .269/.310/.491 with 30 homers and he played some of the finest defense I've seen in a long time. He racked up a 4.2 fWAR that season, his highest since 2008 with the Brewers, second highest in his career, and second highest on the 2011 Orioles (behind Matt Wieters' 4.6).
The Orioles liked what they saw so much from Hardy that on July 16, 2011, they signed him to a three year, $22.5M contract. Even with hot prospect Manny Machado in the minors, then GM Andy MacPhail saw the value that a shortstop like Hardy provided. (And since Machado now plays alongside him at third base and the O's are contenders, it all seems to have worked out).
This season, Hardy got off to a slow start and looked simply terrible at the plate. 2012 wasn't his finest year at the plate, and some began to wonder if J.J.'s days as an offensive threat were over. The idea of voting for him for the All Star Game seemed, early on, like a terrible idea. But Hardy went on a hot streak in the month of June to get his numbers back to respectability, ending the month with a .266/.304/.456 hitting line. That combined with his excellent defense made him suddenly a good choice to play shortstop in the All Star Game. Is the best choice? That's subjective, but him being there is far from an embarrassment.
GIF that tells you what you need to know.
Did you know?
J.J. Hardy was on an episode of the soap opera The Young and the Restless along with his then teammates Jeff Suppan, Bill Hall, and Chris Capuano.