It’s June 3rd, and despite the mostly gloomy projections for the Orioles in 2016, they’re within a game of first place in the A.L. East. No team can post the 3rd-best record in their league without some breakout performances or career years from some of their players, and the O’s are no different. All-Star voting has begun, and the teams will be announced in about a month. There should be at least a few players there sporting the orange and black, so let’s take a look at who might be punching their ticket to San Diego.
The lock - Manny Machado
Barring something cataclysmic, Manny Machado will be an All-Star again this year. All he’s done is manage to hit much better than he did during his 7-WAR, MVP-level season a year ago. He’s raised his OPS by over 100 points and is now hitting a ridiculous .314/.384/.604.
By the way, he’s also been moved to shortstop and is still playing his usual Gold Glove-caliber defense. There’s not much more to say here. He’s one of the best players on the planet.
The two who should make it - Zach Britton and Mark Trumbo
Britton is another guy who’s managed to improve on a tremendous 2015 campaign. He’s sporting a 1.21 ERA and a 10.88 K/9, and his 15 saves are near the top of the league. If he had these numbers a month from now, Britton would be nearly as much of a lock as Machado.
The only thing keeping him out of that category is the fact that he’s a closer; one or two bad (or unlucky) outings can bump up that ERA in a hurry. As long as he keeps it up, he’ll be making his second straight appearance.
Meanwhile, Mark Trumbo is doing his best Nelson Cruz impression during his first year with the O’s, and after hitting two baseballs to the moon last night against Boston he’s once again tied for the league lead in home runs with Todd Frazier.
He’s 6th among qualified AL outfielders in OPS and 7th in wRC+, and the home runs probably make him a sexier All-Star pick than players above him on the list like Brandon Guyer and Michael Saunders. The best 3 offensive outfielders in the league thus far have probably been Mike Trout, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Cruz, but Trumbo is right there behind them.
Like Britton, he’d have a place on the team if the game was today. Unfortunately, Trumbo is known as a streaky hitter, so a cold spell could easily knock him down a few pegs. That's a
The three who could make it - Chris Tillman, Brad Brach, Matt Wieters
Chris Tillman is having a great year so far with a 7-1 record and a 2.92 ERA, tenth among qualified AL starters. The All-Star field for starting pitchers is always a crowded one, though, and while his peripherals do show a much improved pitcher from last year they also indicate he might not be quite this good.
Hopefully we’ll get this version of Tillman for the rest of the season, but we all know he’s had stretches like this before. A few bad starts could bring him down to Earth, and even with his current numbers there’s a chance he wouldn’t make the squad.
Brad Brach is making his best effort to become this year’s Darren O’Day, the elite non-closer reliever whose numbers are too good to ignore despite a lack of saves. He’s got a sparkling 0.94 ERA on the season, but the problem is that even with an ERA that microscopic he could still easily be left off of the team.
Andrew Miller has been completely unhittable, Will Harris of the Astros has a 0.36 ERA, Dellin Betances has an insane 17.8 K/9, and Kelvin Herrera has been every bit as good as Brach. You just don’t typically see more than a couple non-closers make the All-Star team, and there’s an unusually strong crop of them this year.
Stranger things have happened, though, and times are changing in that regard. The days of Mike Williams making the All-Star Game with a 6.43 first-half ERA and 25 saves are mercifully over.
Matt Wieters is probably the only other Oriole with a realistic chance of making it to the Midsummer Classic. It’s a pretty weak year for catchers in the American League, so Salvador Perez is the only thing close to a lock - while he may not deserve to be the leading vote-getter in the entire A.L., Perez has been the best catcher in the league thus far.
This may be surprising after his brutal start, but Wieters is now third in OPS and fourth in wRC+ among AL catchers. Not only that, the other catchers up there with him are players with less name recognition than Wieters, such as the likes of Jason Castro, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Steven Vogt. It would’ve seemed unbelievable in April, but Wieters’ hot hitting has put him firmly in the All-Star picture.
The longshot - Chris Davis
Chris Davis is not quite playing like an All-Star right now and has virtually no chance of making the team over anyone from the trio of David Ortiz, Eric Hosmer, or Miguel Cabrera. Looking past them, Joe Mauer is having a renaissance season and is by far the most likely candidate to represent a really bad team in the Minnesota Twins.
Chris Davis is still Chris Davis, though, and he could go into God Mode at any time. If he gets hot for a few weeks his numbers could balloon and he’d start to look much more like an All-Star candidate. He also has the star power of having led the league in home runs two out of the past three years - that shouldn’t matter, but it does. Even then, he probably just has too many guys above him.
To me, those are the only seven Orioles who have anything resembling a realistic shot at an All-Star appearance. My prediction? Machado, Britton, Trumbo, and Wieters will represent the O’s this year. Who do you think will end up in San Diego? Did I leave out someone who deserved a mention? Let me know in the comments below.