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Orioles would face big loss if O'Day left

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Orioles would face big loss if O'Day left

If you had a pitcher with a 23-8 record and a 1.92 ERA, you’d really want to keep him on your team. The Orioles have such a pitcher, but he’s not a starter.

In four seasons with the Orioles, Darren O’Day has that 23-8 record with that 1.92 ERA, and unfortunately, there may not be a fifth, sixth or seventh season for him here.

O’Day is a free agent, and in this most challenging offseason, whether to keep him may be the most challenging decision for the Orioles.

Everyone loves O’Day. Well maybe not everyone. Jose Bautista doesn’t think too much of him, but everyone around the Orioles does.

They were thrilled when he was named to the All-Star team, and they’d be thrilled if he returned in 2016.

With Nick Markakis gone, O’Day assumed a more vocal leadership role around the team. People gravitate toward him, and while it’s unusual to have a bullpen guy as a team leader, well, the Orioles are a slightly unusual team.

O’Day enters the clubhouse riding his Solowheel, and in 2012, manager Buck Showalter pranked the reliever in New York’s Citi Field during a supposed interview about it. After O’Day fell into what’s a slump for him, Showalter blamed himself for participating in it.

Despite barely making the Orioles in 2012 when he beat out Zach Phillips for the bullpen’s last spot, O’Day has managed to improve his ERA each season.

In his first year, O’Day had a terrific 2.28 ERA, and has lowered it to 2.18, 1.70 and 1.52 in each successive season. During his four years with the Orioles, he has struck out more than 4 ½ times the number of batters than he’s walked, and this year, it was nearly six times.

In 10 days, O’Day turns 33, and not long afterward, will become a highly sought after free agent.

MORE ORIOLES: WHO IS THE TEAM'S MOST VALUABLE PLAYER?

The Orioles value him. Before the 2013 season, O’Day was signed to a two-year contract with a third year option for $9.65 million.

He could get a three-year contract for much more this time.

Before the 2014 season, another sidearmer, Joe Smith, signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels for $15.76 million.

Smith was 30 when the contract began, and O’Day, who as he jokingly has said could become the highest paid sidearmer in baseball history, should top that.

O’Day doesn’t have an ego that demands being a closer. For the right money he’d be quite happy setting up for Zach Britton. But, he’s competitive enough that he wouldn’t shy away from the challenge of accepting the closer’s role.

When Britton was unavailable near season’s end, O’Day methodically dispatched the Nationals in three straight games.

Showalter is very careful to not overuse relievers. In his four years with the Orioles, O’Day has pitched in 69, 68, 68 and 68 games. He’d need a manager who made sure to look after him.

O’Day’s teams often win. He played for Texas in 2010 and 2011 when they went to the World Series, though he couldn’t pitch in the 2011 postseason because of injuries.

If O’Day leaves, the Orioles may seem to have replacements in Brad Brach and Mychal Givens, but his loss would be felt in other ways.

Showalter credits him not only with solidifying the clubhouse, but making sure the relievers fit together, and that’s hard to measure.

Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has decried the large contracts given to relievers.

"Can you believe some of the money these guys are getting for a couple outs?” Duquette said at last year’s Winter Meetings.

O’Day may get that money elsewhere for a couple outs, but he’d be missed terribly 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.

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