By Dominic Lancella on June 19, 2014
The Baltimore Orioles are in the thick of a tight race in the American League East as they find themselves three games behind the division-leading Toronto Blue Jays. The O’s have decent starting pitching and a very dangerous lineup that has the team ranked first in hits in the AL. The All-Star Game is fast approaching, and the O's sent five players to the game last year. Here are five Orioles who deserve to make the AL All-Star squad this year.
Markakis’ 89 hits are tied for the most among AL outfielders so far this season. He’s typically a spark leading off in a lineup that has a lot of firepower in the middle. His .300 batting average is fifth among AL outfielders. Every year Markakis puts up good numbers but has never been rewarded with an All-Star selection in first eight seasons. In his ninth season, Markakis deserves to be at the Midsummer Classic.
After starting the All-Star Game for the AL in 2013, Hardy appears to be a top candidate to make the team again this year. His .289 BA is fourth among AL shortstops, and like Markakis, he’s a guy who will get on base for the big bats behind him. Hardy’s also one of the best fielding shortstops statistically this season. No shortstop is blowing away the rest of the field in terms of stats, making Hardy a definite possibility to make the squad.
Jones started in center field for the AL last season, and it looks as though he may do it again in 2014. Jones is second among AL outfielders only to Mike Trout in BA, home runs and runs batted in. Trout also started in the outfield last ASG, so it looks like they both deserve to start again. Jones also leads all center fielders in hits so far. It’s too early to say Jones is a lock to start the game, but he’s definitely a lock to make the team.
What a story Britton has quietly been so far this season. As a starter for his first three seasons, this year he’s been trying his luck out of the bullpen and it’s paying off for the O’s. Last year he gave up 22 earned runs in 40 innings pitched. This year he already has 37.2 innings and has only conceded three ERs. His 0.72 ERA is amazing, and he’s recently taken over closing duties for the O’s. No doubt he belongs on the All-Star Team in 2014.
Cruz was floating around free agency until the beginning of spring training, and man are the O’s happy they signed him. He leads MLB in HRs and RBIs and could have upwards of 70 RBIs by the time the All-Star Game arrives. While he’s been a power threat, he’s also hit well for average and is currently batting .299. You might as well pencil him in to be a starter somewhere for the AL, even with the stiff competition at the outfield position.
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