So it should be obvious to everybody in the world that the Orioles aren’t so fine and dandy this season. There is no reason why we deserve to have an all star, but it’s the rule. Not saying there are no positive individual performances, but I just don’t think any positive note should be attached to this season. But, since we have to have one, let’s figure out who that guy may be. It is usually an easier pick for us than it is this year. Since 2001, only one Oriole has made it to the All-Star Game every year (except once). This year we have 3 or 4 options, depending on who you are: Nick Markakis, Ty Wigginton, Jason Berken, and Adam Jones.
Markakis is hitting .307 with 24 RBIs and 40 runs scored. With only 3 HRs on the year, the Orioles right-fielder has 46 walks, ranking 5th in the American League. Plus, he is in competition with guys like Ichiro, Josh Hamilton, Carl Crawford, and Nelson Cruz.
Wigginton was the Orioles lone bright spot for a big chunk of the season early on, and to date has totalled 13 HRs with 40 RBIs and 29 runs scored. The homerun number is no longer even in the top 5 in baseball, let alone the AL, and his average is down to an unimpressive .262.
Jason Berken, out of the ‘pen, has a stellar ERA of 1.60, 34:13 K:BB ratio, and a magnificent 1.13 WHIP. He set the record for most scoreless innings pitched in relief in interleague play in history (12 2/3), and is working his way up the ladder in top relief men in the game. He was supposedly one of the few middle relief candidates on the voting list of pitchers given to players that usually contains mainly starters and closers.
Lastly, some people include Adam Jones in their thoughts. I love Adam. He is one of my favorite Orioles, if not THE favorite. But come on. With a horrendous start to the season batting .251 through the end of May, he is only on a recent positive surge. With 12 HRs, 33 RBIs, and 35 runs scored, he only had 5 HRs, 15 RBIs, and 20 runs scored through 2 full months of baseball (through May 31st). Juan Samuel told The Baltimore Sun that if Girardi were to call to ask for an opinion as to who to take, “I am leaning toward maybe Jonesy.” Sorry, Juan, but the guy just wasn’t producing at all before you came under the helm.
Recently, I did a piece on the AL All-Star team as a whole, not with focus on just the Orioles. The only Oriole mentioned in the post was Nick Markakis, and I am sticking with that pick. Wigginton had a nice start, but has not put up numbers to top the consistent hitting of Nick. Wiggy’s HR and RBI total may be higher, but the .300+ average and OBP are what makes Nick the better guy for the spot. Jones does not deserve it. With all due respect to his big turnaround he seems to be making, it is just too little, too late. He is stuck without a spot like Jose Reyes is in the NL, who is hitting for the triple crown in the month of June. And some people know I am a big fan of the bullpen. I sit by it every game and talk to the guys every chance I get. Even with that, I don’t give Berken the spot. I believe a pitcher should have some stat against him for allowing runs to score while he is on the mound, even if they are runners charged to the previous guy. There may be a stat, but it is one nobody looks at, and the ERA does not show the times he gets up there and lets a run come in. Starters fight for themselves only, let alone they leave it up to a bullpen guy to keep his ERA down. Typical closers in the 9th inning have their 3 outs to deal with, and don’t usually deal with inherited runners. That is why I don’t see him as the viable option.
Kake it is. He has shown so much respect for this club and organization over the years, even through all of this losing. He sticks through it and still plays hard with a consistent glove and bat. My vote is for Nicholas William Markakis.