It’s obviously still quite early, but I had the thought today that there’s a good chance that Zach Britton ends up being the guy representing the Orioles at the All-Star game this year. And I think that’s true. Who are the other options?
C: Matt Wieters has been one of the Orioles’ best players so far, and he’s currently just behind Russell Martin and Carlos Santana in fWAR amongst AL catchers (Wieters is at 1.2, and they’re at 1.4 and 1.3, respectively). If Martin stops hitting so many home runs (he has 7 already, which is as many as he hit in 588 PA in 2009 and more than he hit in 387 PA in 2010) or Sanatana stops walking so dang much (17.7 BB%), then Wieters is in a good position to step up as an above average hitter (111 wRC+) with a plus glove. But then, so is Kurt Suzuki (110 wRC+, with a plus glove). If there are only two catchers, I think Wieters’ chances are maybe 50-50.
SS: JJ Hardy missing time hurt him, but if he keeps hitting as he has I could see him being among the WAR leaders at short at the break – and at the end of the year. The position really is weak in the AL right now.
OF: Adam Jones has easily been the O’s best outfielder (he has 1.2 fWAR, while Scott, Markakis, Fox, and Pie have combined for right around 0.0, with no one above 0.6), and it wouldn’t be completely crazy for him to make it. I think it’s a distinct long-shot though.
That leaves pitchers. Kevin Gregg will have the team’s saves, but he hasn’t been good this year. A good middle reliever like Koji or Jim Johnson won’t make it (nor should they). So we go to the starting rotation.
The O’s have a number of solid but not spectacular starters – Jake Arrieta leads the team in xFIP at 3.76 (and is probably the only other real choice from this group), Chris Tillman leads in FIP at 3.49 (lol), but Britton is close on both counts (3.80 and 3.73), while also having the best ERA by a run and a half (2.42). Beyond that, he’s left-handed (which might make him more attractive pitching out of the pen) and is probably the most “exciting” starter on the team by virtue of being a top prospect succeeding in the big leagues. So while it’s doubtful that Britton will be one of the better pitchers in the league at the break – or the most valuable player on the O’s – I think the ease with which the manager can add a lone representative (and unless something crazy happens, the O’s will only have one again) to the roster on the pitching side might make Britton the pick. Which would be pretty nice for the youngster, and hopefully a warm-up for also being selected as Rookie of the Year.
Stats: wRC+, ERA, FIP, xFIP, WAR