Starters Chris Davis at first base, J.J. Hardy at shortstop and Adam Jones at center field and reserve third baseman Manny Machado all deserve the honor. They’ve earned it with excellent first halves.
But if we’re dolling out props, a lot needs to go to the Orioles’ promotions and public relations departments for their constant ‘Vote Orange” campaign. Its persistence got a little tiresome for us writers at the end – but it was super effective. Davis received the most votes of any major league player and Jones led all AL outfielders.
Of the top five vote-getting outfielders in the AL, three were Orioles. And every other healthy Oriole finished first or second at their respective positions. Although I have no tangible proof, I have to think those “Vote Orange” events in which club personnel traveled to busy local areas and passed out ballots had to make a huge difference. Really smart move on the Orioles’ part.
The one disappointing thing is that Orioles’ fans couldn’t push Nick Markakis into the game. Markakis’ numbers are far from eye-popping (.288/.336/.405, eight homers, 43 RBIs, 52 runs), so his omission isn’t glaring.
But I’ve covered Markakis since he signed with the Orioles in 2003. I understand what his steady presence has meant to the organization as it has begun its climb back to respectability.
And so it would have been nice to see him get a nod this year since he was so close (he fell roughly 216,000 votes shy of former Oriole Jose Bautista).
Ultimately, the All Star Game is a popularity contest, and so why not reward a guy for competence and steadiness? At least once in his career, anyway.
That said, the fans, for the most part (Bautista selection included), did a great job with their ballots. I could be wrong, but I think the emergence of fantasy baseball in the past 20 years has really helped the voting be more representative.
Fans that play fantasy baseball, I believe, are more aware of players in other cities, divisions and leagues, and they become enamored with successful players who aren’t on their hometown teams. Just ask Chris Davis and Nate McLouth how often they hear fans on the road thank them for helping their fantasy teams. It’s actually pretty funny.
One of the more surprising -- and coolest – inclusions on the AL team was Toronto reliever Brett Cecil, who has no saves but 50 strikeouts in 44 innings and is 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA. Non-closers don’t often get noticed. So it’s a fantastic honor for Cecil, who was born in Dunkirk, Md., and went to DeMatha High School and the University of Maryland.
By the way, the Orioles have more players going to the All Star Game than any other AL East team. Heck, the Orioles currently have twice as many 2013 All Stars (4 to 2) as the New York Yankees. That could change if reliever David Robertson wins the Final Vote.
One last item: Vote Orange is finished. The Orioles don’t have a player in the “Final Vote,” which will send one more player to the All Star Game from the AL and the NL. You have to assume Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig will win the NL nod.
But I’m curious as to how many Orioles’ fans will get on-line and vote for Boston reliever Koji Uehara for the AL Final Vote. Uehara was exceptionally popular here. And he got the Orioles Davis and Tommy Hunter in that now crucial 2011 deadline deal.
That trade alone should get Uehara some Baltimore support.