Off to their best start in seven years, the Orioles will send three players to the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 10, with a chance at a fourth.
Closer Jim Johnson, center fielder Adam Jones and catcher Matt Wieters were selected as reserves to play in the 83rd edition of the Midsummer Classic at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. It’s the first time since 2005 the Orioles have received multiple All-Star Game selections.
Jones and Wieters were selected as reserves.
In his first full season as the Baltimore closer, Johnson has been one of the best in baseball as his 23 saves are tied for the major-league lead. The 29-year-old has blown only one save all season and has already set a career high in saves, more than doubling the 21 career saves he had prior to the 2012 season.
Johnson has only allowed five earned runs in 34 2/3 innings pitched this season, good for a 1.30 earned run average.
He is the first Orioles pitcher to be selected to the All-Star Game since George Sherrill was chosen for the 2008 All-Star Game at old Yankee Stadium.
Though narrowly missing being voted in as a starting outfielder, Jones was the most deserving of the Orioles’ selections as he’s enjoying the finest season of his seven-year career. The 26-year-old leads Baltimore in batting average (.300), home runs (19), runs batted in (41), runs (51), on-base percentage (.343), and slugging percentage (.554) and was rewarded for his tremendous play with a six-year, $85.5 million contract in late May to remain with the Orioles through the 2018 season.
Jones had a career-long 20-game hitting streak in May and became the first player since Mark McGwire in 1988 to homer in the 15th inning or later twice in the same season when he hit game-winning home runs in Boston and Kansas City in the month of May.
This is Jones’ second All-Star selection after he was selected as a representative in the 2009 All-Star Game played in St. Louis.
Named the club’s most valuable player last season, Jones is poised to break the career highs he set in 2011 with 151 games, 26 doubles, 25 home runs, 83 RBI, 12 stolen bases, 53 extra-base hits, and .466 slugging percentage.
Selected as an All-Star catcher for the second straight year, Wieters is hitting .249 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI. Though his seven errors have already surpassed the five he committed all last season, the 26-year-old has thrown out 36 percent of runners trying to steal this season.
Wieters hit his first career grand slam and tied a career high with five RBI in a win over the Chicago White Sox on April 16.
He is the first Baltimore player to be selected to consecutive All-Star Games since shortstop Miguel Tejada was chosen to play in three straight from 2004 through 2006.
The Orioles and their fans have a chance to send a fourth representative to Kansas City with P Jason Hammel a part of the five-man “Fan Vote.”
Hammel is up against Royals closer Jonathan Broxton, Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, White Sox starter Jake Peavy, and Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish.
Acquired in the Jeremy Guthrie trade that was met with much scrutiny, Hammel has emerged as the club’s best starting pitcher in 2012, going 8-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 15 starts. The right-hander has struck out 89 batters while walking 32 in 93 innings this season.
Hammel set the tone for his surprising season by carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his Orioles debut in a win over the Minnesota Twins on April 8. He pitched a one-hit shutout against Atlanta on June 16 and followed that outing by allowing one unearned run in eight innings of work in a win against Washington on June 22.
Hammel may have lost a last-second push to the All-Star team. In his last start against the Los Angeles Angels, he only lasted 3 1/3 innings while allowing eight earned runs.
WNST’s Ryan Chell contributed to this report.