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Hunter, Norris, two outsized personalities


Hunter, Norris, two outsized personalities

Within a few hours on Friday afternoon, two of the most interesting personalities of recent Orioles history exited the team. One went with much fanfare. One went with hardly any.

Tommy Hunter had to learn about this trade to the Chicago Cubs from social media, and that wasn’t right. Bud Norris was told earlier in the day he was being designated for assignment.

Hunter was with the Orioles for four years and a day. Norris for exactly two years.

Both made a huge impact on the team.

Hunter was an outsized personality who came to the team in one of the best trades in Orioles history. On July 30, 2011, the team received Hunter and Chris Davis from Texas for Koji Uehara, and Hunter served the team as a starter and in the bullpen.

Never shy about expressing his feelings, Hunter was best as a setup man for Darren O’Day and Zach Britton though he wasn’t as sharp this year as he was a year ago.

The Orioles tried him at closer in the early weeks of 2014, but he wasn’t suited for it at the time. He was better setting up.

In Hunter’s first game for the Chicago Cubs, he picked up a save, and perhaps he’ll get more opportunities for that.

Jim Johnson wasn’t prepared to be a closer in his first opportunity, but a few years later did much better in his second chance.

Hunter will be missed. He already is. The clubhouse is a quieter, and maybe not better place without him.

Norris doesn’t have a new team, yet, but he will. Dan Duquette seemed troubled on Friday when he was discussing Norris. It clearly troubled him that the team hadn’t been able to help Norris.

He won some big games in 2014, and he enjoyed the spotlight. Norris won the ALDS clincher in Detroit, and pitched superbly.

This year was awful. He didn’t pitch well in spring training. He and Buck Showalter didn’t mesh, and he was unhappy in the bullpen.

Norris was a breath of fresh air in the clubhouse when the team won, and he took losing hard.

It was entertaining in March when he and home plate umpire John Hirschbeck jawed at each other over balls and strikes in a Grapefruit League game.

You couldn’t imagine Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez or Chris Tillman growling with an umpire. Only the Budman.

Here’s hoping Hunter and Norris will find happiness in their new baseball homes. They were appreciated around here.


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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.


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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado took an even larger lead in the latest update for 2018 MLB All-Star Game voting.

The superstar shortstop maintained his position at the top of American League shortstops in the second round of All-Star voting updates, released Tuesday morning. 

After the first ballot was released, Machado led the shortstops category by over 100,00 votes.

This week, he now holds north of a 200,000-vote lead over last year’s American League starter, Carlos Correa.

The Astros’ Correa jumped from fourth to second this past week while the Indians’ Francisco Lindor dropped to third.  

Machado now has 671,133 votes, seventh among all American League players. For the second straight week, Machado remained the only Orioles player on the list.

Through 69 games in 2018, Machado is batting .310 with 18 home runs, 15 doubles and 53 RBIs. He is posting his best OPS (.945) and on-base percentage (.377) in his career, a bright spot for the O’s, who sit dead last in MLB with a 20-50 record.

The All-Star voting will be open until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and fans can vote five times every 24 hours.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 26.