The Orioles have won 11 of their last 14. They're sitting at 2 games above .500 and three games back of the Yankees in the A.L. East. There's not a whole lot of analysis to be done when your team has been winning almost every game lately. It's also Friday, and I'm typing this a mile from a beach, so let's talk about something completely silly and frivolous.
What fits that bill better than the All-Star game? The midsummer classic is in a few weeks and is setting up to be an even more ridiculous affair than usual, thanks to the ballot-box stuffing by Royals fans that will probably cause 7 or 8 A.L. starters to be wearing blue. Because of that, it's not looking like many O's will get the honor of traveling to Cincinnati this year. There are a few reasons for this: first, the O's just haven't had as many deserving players this season. Second, there will be less spots available thanks to the Royals ridiculousness, and every team still has to get a representative. Third, a few of the Orioles to make the squad the past few years were the result of a lesser Royals-esque voting effort by O's fans (like Matt Wieters, who was voted a starter after playing 26 games last season). Since those starting spots don't seem to be up for grabs this time around, anyone who makes the team will really have to earn it.
So, who has a shot? There's one player who should be a lock: Manny Machado. In his return from yet another knee injury Manny has been terrific. He's OPSing over .850 and tied for the team lead in home runs with 14, matching his career high already. After the leadoff spot was being butchered by a platoon of two players who have already been DFA'd, Manny stepped in and responded by posting by far the best OBP and walk rate of his career. He's been awesome. He SHOULD be a lock to make the team, but weirder things have happened. Looking at the 3rd base position around the league, Mike Moustakas will probably be the starter, and Josh Donaldson will certainly make the team. Other than that, there's not much in the A.L in terms of third basemen.
How about Adam Jones? He definitely has a good shot at making the team but it will be tight. Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, and Mike Trout look like they'll be the starters. Nelson Cruz and Jose Bautista will most likely be there too. After that, there's a big group of second-tier guys that includes Jones. The advantage that some of these guys have over AJ is that they play for crappy teams - Josh Reddick could be a minor Sonny Gray injury away from being a near-lock, Michael Brantley may be the only viable Indian besides Jason Kipnis, and even someone like Brock Holt could end up making the squad as the lone representative from their underwhelming team. Another issue is Adam's nagging injury - it's still unclear exactly how serious this shoulder situation is, and despite his plans to return tonight, the Birds may not want him traveling and playing in an unneccessary game if he can just stay home and rest.
As far as other position players, it's probably not going to happen. Chris Davis has had a decent year, but there is no shortage of solid first basemen to choose from this season. Caleb Joseph is the kind of guy who could get a look as the sole representative from a really bad team, but luckily the O's are not that. Right now, no one else has played well in enough playing time to really be in the conversation.
As far as pitchers, the Oriole with by far the best shot is Zach Britton, who has been even better than he was last year. This time around he has a full half-season of closing under his belt at the break, resulting in a 1.63 ERA (1.58 FIP) and 18 saves. He absolutely should be there, and I think he will be. Darren O`Day (who is awesome) is a deserving candidate, but I have a feeling he'll miss out again. Saves are sexy, and O'Day just doesn't have them. Dellin Betances (0.26 ERA) and Wade Davis (0.31 ERA) are near-locks as setup guys, and it would be pretty weird for three non-closers to make the team in the bullpen. Glen Perkins is a lock, and some other guys like David Robertson will probably make the team over O'Day as well.
In the starting rotation, the Birds have a few pitchers who are having good, but not quite All-Star caliber seasons. Miguel Gonzalez is hurt, and Ubaldo Jimenez has tailed off a bit - fair or not, his disaster season in 2014 probably hurts his chances too. Wei-Yin Chen has the best chance to get there - he's having the best year of his career so far with a 2.89 ERA. Unfortunately he's only 3-4, which is stupid and shouldn't matter, but it probably does. There are also a ton of great starters in the AL this year. As good as he's been, should Chen make it over Sonny Gray, David Price, Dallas Keuchel, Chris Archer, or Jake Odorizzi? Probably not. Also, a few other pitchers like Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale have similar ERAs but much bigger names. The more likely option for Chen is to get there as an injury replacement, like Chris Tillman in 2013.
All in all, my guess is we'll see Manny Machado and Zach Britton in Cincinnati, with either Wei-Yin Chen or Adam Jones showing up as one of the five players in the "Final Vote." Who do you think will represent the Orioles in this year's midsummer classic?