Ranking the Baltimore Orioles' Best All-Star Game Candidates
The 2014 MLB All-Star Game is less than two weeks away now, and fans of the Baltimore Orioles are eager to see who will be chosen to honor the club in the Midsummer Classic.
Last year, the Orioles were fortunate enough to have five players (Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy and Chris Tillman) selected to play in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field. This year's contest, though, will undoubtedly feature fewer Orioles than its predecessor.
It's an obvious statement at this point in the season to mention that the Birds have been underachieving immensely given their core players and sheer offensive production from last year. Still, no one could have predicted that Davis, Hardy and Machado would have combined for only 22 home runs through half a season's worth of games.
Adam Jones is the only 2013 All-Star to live up to the label so far, and because of that, he has a great chance to be selected for this year's All-Star Game and could possibly even find himself in the starting lineup.
Let's take a look at Jones and the Orioles' other candidates for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game and rank them based on their chances of being selected to participate.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Webb, RP
2-1, 2.65 ERA, 8 BB, 30 K, 37.1 IP
Through 37.1 innings pitched, Webb has walked only eight batters, has struck out 30 and has given up only one long ball on the year.
He has been limiting opposing batters to just a .219 batting average, good for second-best on the club in that department among regulars.
Although his numbers are very good for a reliever, Webb sits behind Darren O'Day and Zach Britton in the pecking order, and it's doubtful AL Manager John Farrell selects three relievers from the same team.
5. Nick Markakis, RF
.293/.354/.405, 16 2B, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 40 R
Nick Markakis has been a phenomenal table-setter for the Orioles at the top of the lineup this year.
With an on-base percentage that leads the club among lineup regulars, Markakis has been just what the doctor ordered leading off and has even provided some pop with seven homers so far.
In a recent AL All-Star ballot standings update released June 30 by MLB.com, Markakis was in eighth place among outfielders by the time of publication with 1,382,329 votes.
4. Zach Britton, RP
10 S, 1.49 ERA, 13 BB, 32 K, 42.1 IP
Orioles closer Zach Britton has been an anchor for the Orioles at the back end of the bullpen since the beginning of the season and hasn't missed a beat since earning his new role in mid-May.
Britton has converted 10 of 12 saves on the season and leads the team in opponent batting average with a staggering .183.
With a sub-1.00 WHIP and an ERA sitting around 1.50, Britton has a solid shot at making his first All-Star team.
3. Darren O'Day, RP
2-1, 1.32 ERA, 8 BB, 33 K, 34 IP
Darren O'Day has been lockdown as the Orioles' perennial setup man for the past few seasons.
With his silky smooth sidearm delivery, O'Day has been shutting down the opposition and has surrendered just five earned runs on the season.
If any pitcher from the Orioles heads to Minnesota, O'Day will no doubt be on the plane out of Baltimore.
2. Adam Jones, CF
.304/.328/.500, 18 2B, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 49 R
With his slow start to the season, critics and pessimists pointed at Adam Jones' free-swinging ways as the major factor that plagued his numbers early on.
But that's just the type of player Jones is and has been for the majority of his major league career.
He's always been a free swinger who brings a lot of pop and run production from the middle of the order and will, in the end, reach the home run, RBI and run totals that are expected of a superstar.
As it stands, Jones is right on track to reach the 30-homer, 100-RBI and 100-run marks that he accomplished last season and fell just a category short of in 2012 (82 RBI).
Jones will most likely be selected to his fourth All-Star Game and may even be named as the third starting outfielder.
He currently sits at fifth place in outfielder voting with 1,853,268 votes and is competing with Melky Cabrera of the Toronto Blue Jays (1,929,506) and Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics (1,941,553) for the final starting spot.
1. Nelson Cruz, LF/DH
.280/.348/.573, 14 2B, 26 HR, 67 RBI, 49 R
Nelson Cruz is the only true lock to make the AL All-Star team for the Orioles this year.
With superb totals of 26 home runs and 67 RBI before the All-Star break, Cruz is having a career year and should easily surpass the 40-homer and 110-RBI mark this season.
Even though he is unlikely to participate in the Home Run Derby, Cruz will look to have a major impact in the AL lineup in this year's All-Star Game.
Stats courtesy of MLB.com.