Finding out today who represents Orioles at All-Star Game

The trade deadline seems to be bringing a higher level of angst than usual in Baltimore. The growing possibility, or maybe likelihood, that the very popular, productive and inspirational Trey Mancini is dealt. That other veterans are moved, just as the Orioles are playing winning baseball again, and in wildly entertaining style. Just as the dugout energy has returned, for the first time under Brandon Hyde’s tenure as manager.

But the deadline is Aug. 2. Today is another important date, because the rest of the All-Stars are announced beyond the starters in both leagues.

The Orioles haven’t had multiple representatives since 2016 with Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo, Matt Wieters, Zack Britton and Brad Brach, and it would be surprising if the solo streak ended today.

There are more deserving candidates this summer, but the Orioles remain a last-place club trying to shed its losing reputation, and an industry perception, at least in some corners, of irrelevance.

Pay close attention and you’ll find reasons why the industry needs to reset.

Jonathan Schoop in 2017. Machado in 2018. John Means in 2019. No game in 2020 due to the pandemic. Cedric Mullins in 2021, getting the start in center field for an injured Mike Trout.

In 2022?

I had outfielder Austin Hays as the favorite earlier this year. I became more sold, through no fault of Hays, on closer Jorge López.

The three-game slump for López that included two blown saves and home runs allowed in all three made me dig a little deeper into Mancini’s stats. And made me think harder about starter Tyler Wells.

It also made me feel strongly that López shouldn’t be dismissed, that he shouldn’t be judged so harshly. He’s converted his last three opportunities to give him 16 saves. The full body of work makes him deserving and can’t be erased because of three games.

I’m predicting that he’s the choice.

The Orioles will provide a nice story however it plays out.

López would be able to share another special moment with his 9-year-old son, Mikael, who’s battled serious health issues his entire life. In and out of hospitals. Chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant in 2021.

Heart strings tugged.

Fans wrapped around their fingers.

Mancini returned from Stage 3 colon cancer last season and was runner-up to the Mets’ Pete Alonso in the Home Run Derby. He didn’t go in 2019, and while extremely happy for Means, had to fight back the disappointment.  

He’d really like to be in Los Angeles at the break, but also would be incredibly happy for whichever player received the honor. He’s just that kind of guy.

He’s also the guy who leads the Orioles in average at .281 and on-base percentage at .353 and is second in OPS at .773. Kind of quietly, too. But do eight home runs hurt his chances?

Blame the wall.

There are a lot of people in the organization who want Mancini there, as well, but also really wish he could be joined by at least one teammate.

Hays finally is staying healthy, beyond the lacerations on his hand and the sore wrist that couldn’t be avoided earlier, and he’s doing good things at the plate – he leads the team with 45 RBIs and is second in doubles with 20 and slugging percentage at .441 - and spectacular things in the outfield.

His body is allowing it to happen. The selection would be a sweet reward for what he’s endured.

Wells was a Rule 5 reliever who arguably became the staff ace in Means’ absence. Who saw that coming? Tremendous story.

Félix Bautista is a 27-year-old rookie released by the Marlins in 2015 who’s throwing 100 mph-plus fastballs, lowered his ERA yesterday to 1.82 and tied for the team lead in holds with 11, and is averaging more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings.

The lack of a defined role could hurt him – we tend to award starters and closers, with obvious exceptions – but there’s an argument to be made for his inclusion. And he’d be one of the least likely All-Stars when the calendar turned to 2022.

Ryan Mountcastle leads the club with a .491 slugging percentage and .806 OPS and has hit 14 home runs that are second behind Anthony Santander (15), who, shockingly, is first in walks. Mountcastle is second in average at .277.

Mullins’ slow start probably hurts him, but he’s behaving again like the 2021 version. He leads the Orioles with 88 hits, 23 doubles and 46 runs scored, is third in average and on-base percentage, and running down everything hit within a mile of him.

Probably just one representative, but who will it be?

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