A little more on Orioles omissions in All-Star Game

Refresh my memory, please. Is the All-Star break the official or unofficial halfway point of the season? Because you also have the 81-game mark, which is mathematically halfway. It’s so confusing.

But not as much as Craig Kimbrel’s exclusion from the Midsummer Classic.

Yeah, we’re going back to that topic before tonight’s series opener against the Cubs at Camden Yards.

The commissioner’s office and player balloting are responsible for selecting pitchers and reserves for the American League and National League.

If we’re ranking snubs, Kimbrel is No. 1. No one else in the home clubhouse tonight has a bigger beef. Maybe he’s OK with it after nine previous selections. More time at home with the family, a chance to rest up before resuming the season July 19 in the same location as the All-Star Game.

That seems like piling on. Now you’re allowed to pitch here.

It’s a lame excuse if Kimbel is penalized for a brief slump with four blown saves in five chances and a temporary reset. He entered in high-leverage situations during that period and produced three scoreless and hitless innings. He wasn’t mopping up. And he’s allowed one earned run in his last 21 innings.

The man has 23 saves, a 2.10 ERA and 0.903 WHIP and is averaging 13.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s moved into fourth place on the all-time saves list.

(I know this isn’t a lifetime achievement award, but I tossed it in there anyway.)

So what if Kimbrel occasionally gives fans agita with some tense appearances? Results are what matters.

Yankees closer Clay Holmes made it with 19 saves, a 3.00 ERA, a 1.306 WHIP and 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings. He's allowed eight earned runs and nine total in his last seven appearances. That’s the side-by-side comparison that’s blowing minds.

Holmes' ERA was 1.80 before he faced the Orioles in consecutive games and surrendered four runs (three earned) in two innings.

Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien made it as a reserve while batting .229/.295/.378 in 88 games before last night. Jordan Westburg was ignored after batting .281/.328/.506 in 83 games, and having more doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs and stolen bases and a higher WAR.

Westburg was a finalist at third base but has made 28 starts and 36 appearances at second, so don’t come at me with the positional argument. This is just dumb. And the Rangers already had pitcher Kirby Yates on the AL team, so Semien wasn’t an obligatory pick.

I was never totally sold on Anthony Santander’s chances because of his .235 average and .302 on-base percentage. Four spots remain open for the Home Run Derby, however, and he’s hit 23. Put him in there with Gunnar Henderson and we can relieve 1985 with Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray or 2004 with champion Miguel Tejada and third-place finisher Rafael Palmeiro.

In other words, there are no rules against teammates participating. It’s also happened with other clubs.

Santander has a shot at being a late addition with Houston’s Kyle Tucker out since June 3 with a shin contusion. Tucker isn’t expected back before the break.

That’s one heck of a bruise. If there was a bruise Hall of Fame, it would be inducted in its first year of eligibility.

I wrote Sunday that Ryan O’Hearn’s platoon status could work against him. He’s received only 19 plate appearances against left-handers. But he’s slashing .285/.344/.467 with 10 doubles, a triple and 11 home runs in 73 games.

In a call for perspective here, having three representatives is far from tragic. It’s just unexpected given the team’s success in 2023 and again this season, how it had four participates last year, and how six players were finalists for starting spots. Four seemed more than reasonable with starters Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman, ace Corbin Burnes and Kimbrel, and five wasn’t out of the question.

For five consecutive years, the Orioles had only one rep until last summer. They also had one from 2006-2011 and 2001-2004. First baseman Ty Wigginton was chosen in 2010 as an injury replacement for Boston’s Dustin Pedroia while batting 252/.334/.434 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs.  

The social media team posted manager Brandon Hyde announcing the selections last year in the clubhouse, pointing to each player and enthusiastically calling out names. The Orioles couldn’t really celebrate it Sunday. Hyde summoned Burnes into his office and gave him a hug. Other players followed, but with news that they didn’t make it.

Not the kind of stuff you share on the former Twitter.

Burnes’ teammates made certain to express their joy over him being chosen for the fourth year in a row. No one wanted to rain on his All-Star parade. They were thrilled for him.

“Oh, absolutely,” said Grayson Rodriguez, who earned some consideration, as well. “Corbin’s been our leader this year. I think me and a lot of the other guys have learned a lot from him.

“I think that was one big thing about getting him here is how much better he’s going to make the clubhouse. I really think he’s helped our rotation, not just on the field, but mentally. I think baseball is a mental game, and to be able to have a mindset to go out there and compete every fifth day, I think he’s kind of showing us the ropes for that.”

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