Commendations are in order for the Orioles' four 2005 All-Stars: Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts, Melvin Mora, and B.J. Ryan. Tejada and Roberts were voted to start for the American League at shortstop and second base, respectively, by the fans. Mora made the team as the third-base reserve and Ryan as the top relief pitcher in balloting by players, managers, and coaches.
And all four are deserving of the honor. According to the Baseball Prospectus's Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) metric, Tejada and Roberts have dominated their peers offensively this year: Tejada's 52.8 VORP are eleven runs more than the second-place AL shortstop, Texas's Michael Young, while Roberts stands alone above all other AL second basemen with his 51.6 VORP (the next closest, Texas's Alfonso Soriano, is at 24.3). Tejada and Roberts have handily topped their NL counterparts as well.
Mora, though not quite as proficient as he was last year when he was left off the team due to injury, has accumulated 23.9 VORP, which place him far behind the Yanks' Álex Rodríguez (49.0) and a few runs in front of the next batch of AL third basemen consisting of four players in the 19-21 VORP range. But because Mora spent about two weeks on the disabled list, his production per plate appearance well exceeds that of his closest competitors and thus solidifies his standing as the league's second-best third baseman at the break.
Ryan clearly is one of the top firemen in the league. Although his nineteen saves in 22 opportunities are just the seventh highest total in the AL, his 13.50 strikeouts per nine innings lead all relievers in the junior circuit (the Birds' Tim Byrdak has racked up 16.62 K/9, but he has only pitched in four games) and his 4.92 K/BB and 1.09 WHIP are also excellent. Ryan is at the top of his game right now, and among closers he is as feared as anyone in baseball.
On the down side, no other Orioles were even in contention for All-Star nominations. Perhaps Erik Bedard or Javy López would have vied for spots if they had not been injured, but that's debatable. Plumbing darker depths, Sammy Sosa made FoxSports.com columnist Dayn Perry's Anti-All-Star Team, and several other Birds are among the worst at their positions: starter Sidney Ponson, relievers Steve Kline and Steve Reed, and the left-field combo of Larry Bigbie and B.J. Surhoff.
Epilogue (7/13): Congratulations to Tejada for winning the game's MVP award and a yellow Corvette convertible to go with the Ferrari he already owns. In the second inning, he did a real whack job on Atlanta's John Smoltz, hitting a solo home run to left whose length was estimated at 436 feet. He also had an RBI groundout in the third and turned two double plays with Roberts in the field. Roberts acquitted himself well in his ASG debut with a double and a run scored and several fine defensive plays. Mora struck out against Houston's Brad Lidge in his only at-bat, but he did start a 5-4-3 double play. Ryan came on in the ninth and allowed a hit and two runs (one inherited) to score, although he did get the AL two outs closer to a win. And Texas's Mark Teixeira (who hails from Baltimore) made up for his early exit from Monday's Home Run Derby by hitting an opposite-field bomb off of Florida's Dontrelle Willis.
But Tuesday night was Tejada's. Just a few days after his five-hit game against the Red Sox on national TV, he again was luminescent on the big stage—and in the process he helped secure home-field advantage for the AL in the World Series. Surely Oriole fans are wishing on this star to carry them all the way to the Fall Classic.