Orioles’ Mullins named starting center fielder for Tuesday’s All-Star Game

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Just over two years to the day that he was demoted to Double-A Bowie in a nightmare 2019, Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins will start for the American League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game to continue a storybook season.

Announced by AL manager Kevin Cash on Monday afternoon, Mullins will bat ninth and start in center in place of the injured Mike Trout in the exhibition contest at Coors Field in Denver. The 26-year-old will become just the sixth Oriole to start an All-Star game over the last 15 years, joining Manny Machado (2016, 2018), Adam Jones (2013-15), Nelson Cruz (2014), Chris Davis (2013), and J.J. Hardy (2013).

Mullins enters the All-Star break among the best players in baseball, leading the AL in hits (106) and ranking in the majors’ top 10 in position player wins above replacement (both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs versions), batting average (.314), total bases (183), doubles (23), stolen bases (16), and times on base (144). His statistical profile made him arguably the best outfielder in the AL over the first half and the most appropriate choice to replace Trout, who’s been sidelined with a calf injury since mid-May.

Tied for the club lead with Trey Mancini in home runs (16) and leading the Orioles in on-base plus slugging percentage (.921) and numerous other categories, Mullins has put together one of the finest first-half performances in recent franchise history. His 106 hits at the All-Star Break are the most by an Oriole since 2018 when Machado had 115 in 96 games.

Though not voted an All-Star starter by the fans, Mullins received the most votes on the player ballot among AL outfielders, a nod from his peers to one of baseball’s better stories who overcame much adversity two years ago to receive the national spotlight this week.