Though I was a bit surprised to see Ty Wigginton as the choice to represent the Orioles in this year's All-Star Game, I'm happy for him.
For the record, Ty himself, as well as manager Juan Samuel both said they were surprised by the pick.
I do admire the way Wigginton made a conscious decision not to mope when the O's signed Garrett Atkins and Miguel Tejada to play his positions (the corner infield) this past offseason. He clearly wanted - and maybe even expected - a bigger role with the club last year when he signed as a free agent. When that didn't happen, he chose to work hard in the offseason. He got in shape and rediscovered his power stroke.
The results were obvious early this year when he batted .292 with 13 homers in April and May. If the All-Star selections were announced at the end of May, Wigginton would have been a shoo-in.
The fact that Ty batted .209 with one homer in June and watched his average drop to .251 is the reason many were surprised to hear Ty's name called Sunday.
It's obvious AL manager Joe Girardi (who by the way didn't contact manager Juan Samuel for his opinion on the matter) must feel he knows what he needs to win the game and subsequently home field advantage in the World Series. He chose Wigginton based on that, rather than picking the O's "best" player, who many feel is Nick Markakis.
Girardi needed depth at second base with Dustin Pedroia injured, so that explains the decision a little better. Plus the AL outfield was crowded with superstars, so Markakis was just the odd man out.
I feel bad for Markakis. Not to take anything away from Wigginton at all, but in my opinion, Nick deserved to go. He's been the O's most consistent defensive and offensive player for two years now.
This brings up a question: Is it right for the All-Star managers to choose players based on need and not merit in order to win the game? Or should the All-Star game be just that - a game of the best players from each team regardless of position?
Either way, congrats to Wigginton. He has been a veteran leader on the team and he is a true competitor.