Jordan Westburg Could Be the Orioles’ Unexpected All-Star

Jordan Westburg has gone from an afterthought to a cornerstone and potential All-Star for the Baltimore Orioles.

TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 1: Jordan Westburg #11 and Colton Cowser #17 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates their MLB game win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on August 1, 2023 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

Entering the 2024 season, everyone knew how talented the Baltimore Orioles organization was. However, Jordan Westburg was not at the front of many minds. He was viewed by many as a good bench/utility player who would, eventually be moved out of the lineup to make way for highly touted prospects.

Players such as Coby Mayo and Jackson Holliday looked poised to bump Westburg from the infield. That no longer appears to be the case. If this season is any indication, Jordan Westburg is not going to relinquish his spot in the lineup anytime soon.

From being an afterthought to being on the brink of an All-Star appearance, Westburg is currently one of two finalists to start the game at third base for the American League. In the first phase of balloting, only five-time All-Star José Ramírez of the Guardians received more votes.

Here is a look at how Westburg got where he is.

Ad – content continues below

Jordan Westburg’s All-Star Case

Following a very solid showing as a rookie in 2023, Westburg has stepped up significantly. He has improved from hitting .260/.311/.404 to .281/.331/.502. His offensive production has played a large role in the Orioles’ success this season.

He has also performed very well compared to his peers. Third base in the American League has been one of the strongest position groups in baseball. Among AL third basemen, Westburg ranks third in slugging percentage, third in OAA and third in fWAR.

He finds himself in the mix with the likes of Isaac Paredes, Rafael Devers, and Ramírez.

Another interesting note on Westburg and his case for being an All-Star is that he leads all AL third basemen in win probability added. For those unfamiliar with win probability added (WPA), here is a brief explanation from FanGraphs:

“… say the Rays have a 45% chance of winning before Ben Zobrist comes to the plate. During his at-bat, Zobrist hits a home run, pushing the Rays’ win expectancy to 75%. That difference in win expectancy (in decimal form, +.30) from the beginning of the play to the end is Ben Zobrist’s WPA for that play. The pitcher receives a -0.30. If Zobrist strikes out during his next at-bat and lowers his team’s win expectancy by 5%, his overall WPA for the game so far would be +.30 – .05 = +.25, as WPA is a cumulative statistic and is additive.”

At the end of the day, WPA is just one way to measure a player’s cumulative impact on the outcome of games. Not only does Westburg lead AL third basemen in the metric, but he is sixth in all of baseball. He only trails Juan Soto, Brandon Nimmo, Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge, and Jurickson Profar. That is not bad company.

Ad – content continues below

Another brief note on WPA: The context of each situation matters when calculating the win probability. For example, a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs and the home team trailing by two will have a much greater WPA than a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth when the home team is trailing by eight.

In other words, Westburg continues to show up when it matters most.

Jordan Westburg’s Impact in Baltimore

Westburg’s role in Baltimore is separate – but related – to his All-Star case. The impact he is having on the Orioles cannot be understated. He has been the second-best offensive performer on a top-three team in baseball. That should matter when it comes to deciding the All-Stars.

But what about Adley Rutschman, Anthony Santander, and Ryan O’Hearn? Yes, all three of them have been good, but Westburg has been better thus far.

Among Orioles with at least 100 plate appearances, Westburg ranks second in OPS and wRC+, and third in xwOBA and fWAR. He also, obviously, leads the team in WPA.

The Orioles have the second-best offense in MLB by wRC+ and runs scored. They would not find themselves in that position if not for the efforts of Jordan Westburg. If he had only marginally improved upon his solid rookie year, Baltimore would not have had this much success. There is a huge difference between your third baseman having a 110 wRC+ and a 136 wRC+.

Ad – content continues below

Westburg has long been an overlooked member of this Orioles organization. Hopefully, that will end with an election to the All-Star Game in Arlington this month. He has solidified himself as an invaluable piece of the young core that the Orioles have built.