Contributor Ben Schneider gives his early look at who could represent the Baltimore Orioles in this year’s All-Star game.
With another last-place season ahead of us, looking ahead to the All-Star Game, hosted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, seems like a fun thing to do before the losses pile up. While spring training has not quite started yet and rosters aren’t set, we do have a pretty good idea of who will likely play above the rest on the Baltimore Orioles this season and earn the team’s (likely) single spot on the All-Star team.
Starting with last year’s representative, John Means is gunning for a second straight appearance. While his numbers fell off in the second half with a 4.85 ERA, his sparkling first-half number of 2.50 earned him his bid. I think both of those numbers are a bit extreme and he will be somewhere in the high 3’s for this season to lead the Orioles, but that number probably won’t be good enough to be an All-Star again.
Means was certainly deserving of being an All-Star, but Trey Mancini really was snubbed in the midst of his best season. Mancini played better after the break, but his first-half numbers are still impressive: a .291/.351/.517 slash line for an OPS of .868 with 17 home runs and 40 RBI. He finished the season with 35 home runs and an OPS of .899, and I think he will hit similarly this season, putting him in great position to make his first All-Star team.
Mychal Givens had a very disappointing 2019 season with a 4.57 ERA and 13 home runs allowed, but he is due for a bounce back. Last year was his only season over 4, and in 2017 he had a nice 2.75 ERA. With the added motivation of getting traded to a contender, Givens should pitch better this season and maybe find himself in Los Angeles.
Even though he only pitched 6.1 innings in the majors last season, Hunter Harvey is primed to take over closing duties, whether that is before or after Givens gets traded. Harvey gave up just one run in his seven appearances and seems to have found himself in the bullpen where his velocity plays better. I’m not expecting him to maintain a 1.42 ERA for a full season, but low 3’s is a realistic goal. If he does indeed close out games for most of the season, he will have a higher chance of making the All-Star team.
Hanser Alberto was one of the pleasant surprises last year with a .305 batting average after previously hitting under .200 with the Rangers. Everyone around the league is aware of his massive righty/lefty splits, but those don’t mean much when it comes to All-Star selections. Alberto hit .309 before the break last year but only three of his twelve home runs for a .718 OPS. He’ll have to pick up his slugging to make the team.
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Ryan Mountcastle may be in the running for rookie of the year this season, so an All-Star appearance would not be shocking. The International League MVP hit 25 home runs and 35 doubles with a slash line of .312/.344/.527 for an OPS of .871. Mountcastle might need some time to adjust in the majors and won’t benefit from a juiced ball, but he is certainly a capable hitter. Fans like home runs, so if he hits out of the gate he could make it to Dodger Stadium.
I would be surprised if anyone else on the Orioles makes the All-Star team, but there are possibilities. Fans would be happy if Alex Cobb pitches a full season with an ERA under 5, but I believe it is still possible for him to rediscover his form from when he pitched for the Rays. In his six years in Tampa, Cobb pitched a combined 3.50 ERA, and two of those seasons were sub-3. If those numbers are somewhere inside of him, he’ll earn a spot and he’ll earn his salary.
Austin Hays only played in 21 games as a September call-up, but he showed why he was the first 2016 draft pick to reach the majors. In just 75 plate appearances, Hays collected 10 extra-base hits and seven walks for a .947 OPS, earning himself the center field job this season. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether he can maintain those numbers over a full season, but they are certainly All-Star worthy.
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Those are all the players I think have a fighting chance, but any major leaguer can get hot over half a season. Maybe Pedro Severino or Anthony Santander pick up their average along with their power, or maybe Asher Wojciechowski plays up his slider and works deep into games. The Orioles will likely end up in last place again, but there is some talent on this roster worth following.