These O's deserve attention on the All-Star ballot

June 26th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Zachary Silver’s Orioles Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Each team gets at least one All-Star. For a few years, that was a fortuitous requirement for the Orioles. This year, it might be a limiting factor.

As the Orioles elevate their level of talent and competitiveness, they have seen several individuals take off, some making themselves clear members of the core and others elevating trade value. No matter the methods, this year more than most the Orioles have multiple viable candidates for the All-Star Game, set to take place July 19 in Los Angeles.

Not since 2016 has more than one Oriole been tapped as an All-Star, when that postseason-bound team boasted five.

“I hope that people get out and vote for those guys,” manager Brandon Hyde said this week. “… Really happy with how well these guys have played the first half, and hopefully they get the consideration that they deserve to be in the game.”

It’s far from a given that more than one Oriole will make the All-Star team. But as you vote on your ballots -- and other curators dictate their choices -- here’s the case for a handful of Baltimore players for this year’s All-Star Game:

OF Austin Hays
Key nugget: Among the most clutch players in the Majors
Entering play on Sunday, Hays had compiled a 1.133 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position, a 1.041 OPS in late and close games and a 1.092 OPS in high-leverage situations. His net Win Probability Added and his positive Win Probability Added are in the top 10 in the AL, as calculated by FanGraphs. And his six outfield assists are tied for the third most in the Majors.

“He’s constantly striving to be the best that he can possibly be,” Tyler Wells said this week after Hays’ cycle against Washington. “Everyone in this clubhouse is pulling for him, and hopefully Birdland is, too.”

RP Jorge López
Key nugget: 0.75 ERA is second in Majors (minimum 30 IP)
By pure dominance, López might be the most deserving Oriole. On top of his glaring numbers -- a 0.75 ERA in 36 innings, 13 saves in 15 chances -- opponents are slashing just .131/.223/.172 (.395 OPS) against him, with zero home runs allowed.

There’s no voting for pitchers into the All-Star Game, since their entrance is determined by MLB managers. López might be continuing to force their hand.

DH Trey Mancini
Key nugget: -6.9 HR-xHR ratio tops the Majors
True, Mancini’s raw numbers don’t quite stack up with those of his AL counterparts, but it’s not rare for All-Star nods to be handed to players with more of a career achievement in mind. Mancini would be wholly deserving, especially after he seemed to be one of the game’s biggest snubs in 2019. He’s re-finding his power stroke now after being bitten by poor luck. Who knows the kind of buzz he’d be earning had the left-field wall at Camden Yards not been pushed back?

1B Ryan Mountcastle
Key nugget: Barrel percentage, hard-hit percentage, xSLG and average exit velocity all in top 10 percentiles
Like years past, Mountcastle has taken his time to heat up this season. But when he does, he can rival any slugger. A slow start will likely do in Mountcastle’s chances, as does the competitive nature of the AL's first-base race. The only thing that might get Mountcastle to the All-Star festivities is the Home Run Derby, though he’s hinted he likely won’t take part in that unless he’s an All-Star.

RPs Félix Bautista, Dillon Tate and Cionel Pérez
Key nugget: Key pieces of top-rated bullpen
It's unlikely that any of the above will find themselves in Los Angeles, but all have a viable case. Bautista, a rookie, perhaps leads the group, but all three boast ERAs under 2.02 and ERA+ values over 197. If a bullpen unit writ large was tapped for the All-Star Game, it’d be Baltimore’s.