When you look at American League leaders in offensive categories, Orioles names are quite scarce these days. Because of that, it's hard to think of any of the Orioles as All-Stars right now, but remember, every team has to have at least one player at the Midsummer Classic.
Who is that player?
Right now my vote is Ty Wigginton. Of the 13 major offensive categories MLB focues on, Wigginton is in the top ten in three, including home runs, on base + slugging percentage, and slugging percentage. For the record, only one other Oriole appears in the top ten in any of those 13 categories. Nick Markakis is tied for sixth in the American League with 11 doubles.
It's kind of ironic that last year's "utility man" has emerged as the Orioles' best hitter in clutch situations and best chance for power. Wigginton is hitting .289 with 9 homers and 17 RBIs. It's a compliment to his work ethic. He clearly was not happy with his lack of playing time last year and wanted to force Dave Trembley's hand this year. He's made Dave's decision simple.
Side Note: Does anybody else wonder why Trembley hasn't put Wigginton in the clean up spot? He seems like a great fit there for right now. I asked Dave a few weeks ago if he's considered it and he said, "No, Miguel Tejada is our number four hitter." That was the only response I received.
Speaking of Miguel Tejada, some may say he has the advantage over Wigginton in the All-Star vote because of name recognition and the fact that he's already a six time All-Star. We all know that those who have already been voted to one All -tar Game tend to go back, sometimes despite declining numbers.
However, Tejada's numbers are great. He has really turned it on in the past 12 games, hitting .386 in that span. His average is now up to .309 with 4 home runs, 5 doubles, and 13 RBI.
Here's a question for everyone: Should we throw Kevin Millwood in the mix? I know he has yet to get a win, but his 3.15 ERA makes him the best pitcher on the O's staff right now. He has also thrown more innings than anyone else, and in my opinion he's given the O's a chance to win every time he's on the mound. It's not his fault the O's don't score runs behind him.
If you ask me, Millwood has been valuable, but he does not deserve the nod over Wigginton or Tejada.
A player to watch is Brian Matusz. I know he's still a rookie and an All-Star appearance is highly unlikely, but he seems very confident and he has great stuff. We could see him grow tremendously over the next two months leading up to the All-Star break. Look for him to make a run for Rookie of the Year, but I think any talk of an All-Star appearance is premature.