In yesterday’s Bird Droppings, Paul Folkemer pointed out that it’s highly unlikely any Oriole player will be voted into the All Star Game this season. Only one Baltimore player ranks in the top 10 of his position, and that’s somehow Chris Davis at first base.
Davis leading the Orioles in votes makes sense on a certain level. The 2013 Silver Slugger award winner certainly holds the most name recognition on a team severely lacking house-hold players. His 70,010 votes (good for just 10th at first base, but still too high) represent one of two things: either national baseball fans feel bad for Davis after his 62 consecutive plate appearances without a hit, or they have such low standards of Baltimore that they think Davis might actually be the team’s best player.
For the record, Davis is hitting just .161 with only five home runs and 63 strikeouts through 47 games. There’s no point in comparing that to the other candidates, because Davis will not be the Orioles’ All-Star selection.
Baltimore’s “Vote Trey” campaign has not taken off quite like the club hoped. Trey Mancini would likely be the Orioles’ most clear-cut candidate, but there’s quite a few talented outfielders in the American League.
Mike Trout is going to be an All Star, and that’s really all we need to say about that. George Springer, when healthy, has played extremely well and holds a certain level of star power. If a lesser-known name is going to come out of the AL East, it’s going to be Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows, not Mancini.
Of course, Mancini could always be named as a reserve. After all, the Orioles will need a representative. But Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, Shin-Soo Choo and several others may have something to say about that.
Rookie pitcher John Means represents the only other potential selection for the Birds. Means has wowed Orioles fans all year with his ability to actually get batters out. His 6-4 record and 2.60 ERA should place him in the conversation, and some could argue that his emergence has been one of the better stories in the first half. Means has given a Baltimore team absolutely starved of pitching a legitimate option every fifth day. He’s been given a chance during a rebuild, and taken advantage every step of the way.
There’s obviously a lot of deserving pitchers in the American League, but Means could be snuck into a crowded bullpen during the Mid-Summer Classic. If there’s not room for Mancini, Means should be the guy. That is, of course, unless Ty Wigginton wants to suit up for old times’ sake.
Does it really matter who ends up getting selected? Not really. There’s always several clubs that struggle each year, and they always have a player selected. The honor, while special for the player, does not ensure that he will be a fixture in future All-Star contests.
So why waste a perfectly good Wednesday focusing on this? It’s a fair question. Maybe because the draft is over and there’s still some time before the international signing period kicks off. It could have to do with Norfolk’s rotation not giving us anyone to get excited about, and the fact that there are few reinforcements on the way. It might even be that I’ve accepted David Hess is simply going to be David Hess, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Surprisingly, it’s a little more than that.
Whether it’s Mancini or Means selected in July, they’ll be representing the Orioles’ future. If Mancini gets the nod, it will further add to his leadership role on this team. If Means is selected, it would provide a confidence boost to a guy that’s already making quick work of the American League. I’m not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, but Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall will need someone to look up to when they finally make it to Baltimore. It’s possible that “All-Star pitcher John Means” could be that guy when they arrive.
Mancini and Means will also likely be the two main candidates for the Most Valuable Oriole award at the end of the season. In a year where the lineup card changes almost every single day, consistency goes a long way. One of these two should have their strong first half rewarded with an All-Star nod, and it would mean quite a bit if they kept it going all year.
Several players have generated excitement this season at some point. Hanser Alberto has been aggressive at the plate, Pedro Severino has provided a spark from behind the plate, and Renato Nunez has everyone wondering just how much juice is in the baseballs this year. Dwight Smith Jr. has hit fastballs extremely hard, but Mancini and Means have been there all year.
Who do you think the Orioles’ All-Star selection should be this season? Let us know your pick, and if you believe either can play a significant role in the Orioles future.
Who should be the Orioles representative at the 2019 All Star Game?
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