We're heading into June as All-Star voting begins to heat up, and I was wondering not who the Orioles' best player is, but who has performed the best to date, and has been most valuable to the ball club.
My top three in order are Matt Wieters, Zach Britton and Adam Jones.
Just looking at that list makes me realize the progress the Orioles' organization has made this year. Their top "prospects" are now moving into starring roles on the team. I've been a member of the media who has filled out O's MVP ballots for the past several years. I can't remember the last time Brian Roberts or Nick Markakis weren't leading candidates.
My first inclination was Britton purely on a statistical basis. Rookie or not, it's extremely impressive to have a 5-2 record with a 2.14 ERA heading into June. Plus, his win-loss record doesn't reflect his May 12 outing in which he pitched nine scoreless innings against Seattle and received a no-decision. He also threw seven scoreless innings against the Yankees on May 18 and received a no-decision in that outing as well.
After more consideration, though, I decided Wieters is my MVP right now. At first glance, his .273 average isn't exactly MVP worthy, but MVP voting should involve more than stats. He's been hot at the plate, going 6-for-18 on the recent home stand with a double and three RBIs, and in the last 14 days he's batting .378 with a .425 on-base percentage.
What wins my vote is Wieters' clutch hitting. He leads the American League, batting .563 with runners in scoring position. That, to me, is more important than a standard batting average.
Where Wieters is most valuable, however, is behind the plate. He's commanding a very young pitching staff and deserves credit for the job he's done calling games against tough AL lineups. Also, the word is out: Don't run on Wieters.
He ended the series against Washington with a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play and now leads the majors in runners caught stealing (13) and caught stealing percentage (48.1 percent). You can't put a price on that.
Over the course of a long season, we might see Jones sneak in to take MVP honors. He's steady on an upward trend, batting .367 with eight multi-hit games in May. Something tells me this is the year he doesn't fall off in the second half. I'm basing that opinion on the hustle and plate discipline I've seen from Jones.
Just like Wieters, Jones deserves to be in the running for his defense alone. He's tied for the American League lead in outfield assists.
I'm sure people will argue Vladimir Guerrero deserves to be mentioned. I'll give him an honorable mention. The guy is batting .310, and that has to stand for something. However, I always hate to see the MVP go to purely offensive players. Defense makes such a big difference in baseball and therefore must be considered when using the word "value".
What do you think?