The case for Austin Hays and Tyler Wells to make the All-Star team

Baltimore Orioles v Chicago Cubs
Baltimore Orioles v Chicago Cubs / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages
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A well-deserved All-Star break awaits the 44-27 and wild-card-leading Baltimore Orioles in three weeks. Of course, it won't be a complete break for a handful of Orioles who will hopefully be participating in the All-Star festivities in Seattle on July 10-11. Adley Rutschman currently leads all American League catchers with 460,496 votes, some 140,000 more than Rangers' catcher Jonah Heim. Barring something unforeseen, Rutschman should be starting at catcher for the American League on July 11.

Shutdown closer Felix Bautista will join Rutschman in Seattle, with his 19 saves, 1.08 ERA, and ridiculous 67 strikeouts in 33.1 innings, all but making him a shoe-in. Yennier Cano, who has struggled of late but still has an ERA below 1.00 in 36.1 innings, has a strong chance of joining Rutschman and Bautista at the Mid-Summer Classic as well.

But the Orioles are not 44-27 because of these three players alone. Cedric Mullins was likely on pace to join his mates in Seattle, but a groin strain against Cleveland has sidelined him for the last three weeks. Jorge Mateo got off to a hot start before cooling off. Anthony Santander got off cold start before heating up. But two Orioles in particular - Austin Hays and Tyler Wells - have flown under the radar all season as key contributors for the Orioles, and with the Orioles holding the third best record in the American League, deserve serious consideration for the All-Star team. Let's take a closer look.

Outfielder Austin Hays and starting pitcher Tyler Wells deserve more All Star Game consideration

1. Austin Hays - .320 BA, 8 HR, 31 RBIs, .875 OPS, 2.0 WAR

Austin Hays
Will Austin Hays spend his All-Star break in Seattle? He deserves to. / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

In March, I wrote an article about Austin Hays asking the real Austin Hays to stand up. Hays had an incredible first half in 2022, only to follow that up with an equally disappointing second half of the season. In 2023, Hays has produced a first half even better than the one in 2022, making Oriole fans hope that the real Austin Hays has indeed stood up. With 2.0 WAR, Hays is only 0.3 WAR behind his total for 2022. His numbers are quietly near the leaderboard in the American League. Hays leads the American League with his .320 batting average, 3 points ahead of another likely All-Star, Bo Bichette of Toronto.

Hays is fifth in the American League with his .875 OPS, trailing only MVP-frontrunner Shohei Ohtani, Yordan Alvarez, and likely All-Stars Yandy Diaz and Randy Arozarena. He is tied for sixth in the American League with 77 hits, tied with likely fellow All-Star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Again, he is doing it for the team with the third-best record in the American League. While Hays won't start in the All-Star game (he is 18th in the AL in voting), manager Dusty Baker should save a seat for Hays on the All-Star game bench. He's earned it.

2. Tyler Wells, 6-2 , 3.20 ERA, 82 Ks (81.2 innings), 0.86 WHIP, 2.1 WAR

Tyler Wells
Tyler Wells has, quietly, been one of the better starting pitchers in the American League in 2023. / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

I'm an honest man, and I will own up to another incorrect projection I made at the start of the year. I predicted that Tyler Wells would not make the Orioles' rotation in an article about the Orioles' starting pitching this past spring. Mea culpa. Wells has arguably been the Orioles best and most consistent starting pitcher this season, with his 3.20 ERA the best among what has been a solid starting rotation.

Wells' outstanding 0.86 WHIP - meaning he allows less than one baserunner per inning - leads the American League. His 2.1 WAR ranks tenth in the American League, ahead of the current strikeout king Kevin Gausman and the incredible Shohei Ohtani. Brandon Hyde is certainly rooting for Wells to make the All-Star team, as noted in a recent article by the perennially-awesome Roch Kubatko:

"“I’m on the bandwagon of him trying to make the All-Star team,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “There are a few guys. (Austin) Hays. I said that the other day, nobody’s talking about Hays. Why is he so low (18th) in voting? Austin Hays, (Yennier) Cano. There are a bunch of guys that have had really good first halves and definitely deserve attention and recognition for what they’ve done. But Tyler definitely, no doubt about it."

Brandon Hyde, Orioles Manager

In his last start, Wells allowed only two runs over 6 2/3 innings against the powerful Toronto Blue Jays, clinching a critical series win for the Orioles. While he faces yet another tough test when he faces the Rays at Tropicana Field Wednesday afternoon, Wells' numbers speak for themselves. He is arguably the ace of the 44-27 Orioles. He should join the American League's best for the All-Star game in Seattle.

The Orioles have not had multiple All-Stars since 2016, the last time they made the playoffs. Having 4, or potentially 5 All-Stars at the Mid-Summer Classic would be the cherry on top of one of the most enjoyable first halves the Orioles have experienced in quite some time.

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