It’s has been an erratic season so far for the Orioles, but despite the inconsistences they are only five games out of first in the AL East. Also, it’s hard to believe but if the season ended today the Orioles would be going to the playoffs. There’s a lot of baseball left to play, but it’s a good position to be in heading into June. With 57 games behind them the Orioles have seen the entire range of production from different players. Now with a little over a month left before the All-Star game, which players will be rewarded with a trip to Target Field on July 15?
Nelson Cruz is the obvious first to mention. His 21 homeruns and 55 RBI’s have carried the club through a streak that saw several other players not playing up to their ability. It’s not a question whether Cruz will be an all-star. The question the Orioles should be asking themselves is when they should start trying to extend him past this season. Cruz was a bargain at 8 million a year, but he won’t be a bargain this offseason. The Orioles need to push for a long-term deal or they’re going to see a lot of their offense walk away.
Unless he completely falls apart in June, Zach Britton has to be an all-star. He has been the most valuable pitcher on the team, and one of the best relievers in all of baseball. He solidified a closer role that looked to be a major weakness in the first few weeks of the season. He’s been dominate with an ERA of just 0.88, and opponents are only hitting .192 against him. Nobody probably would have predicted it in March, but Zach Britton will most likely be in the bullpen for the American League All-Stars.
It’s been lost a bit with all the attention Zach Britton has gotten, but Darren O’Day has quietly been dominant all season. In 24 innings this season O’Day has 0.75 ERA, and in that time he’s given up only two runs both on solo homers. He still dominates righties, but this season he has a 1.29 ERA against left-handers. If he keeps throwing this well he’ll join Britton in Minnesota for his first All-Star game appearance.
Adam Jones and Nick Markakis could both make the team if their production continues through June. Markakis is hitting .308 which is 9th in the American League, and also has an OBP of .366 which is 7th among outfielders. Adam Jones is hitting .296 which is good for 16th in the AL, and has also added 20 extra-base hits. His power numbers have been down this season so Jones could have a surge in power coming sometime soon.
Orioles fans have seen in the past that it’s difficult to vote Orioles players in over the some of the larger market teams. However, with this talented of a roster it’s safe to say Baltimore will be well represented regardless.