Ryan Mountcastle might get some votes for the American League Rookie of the Year award. He also might be a favorite for the award next year, too.
Mountcastle, who played in 35 of the Orioles’ 60 games this season (60 percent), remains eligible in next year’s voting because he fell four at-bats short of the 130 needed to end his rookie status.
A rookie position player must accumulate 130 at-bats or remain on the active roster for 45 days to lose rookie status. Those 45 days must exclude time in September when there’s an expanded roster. (This year that provision didn’t apply because players weren’t added in September.)
Mountcastle was called up on August 21st, so he falls seven days short of the 45 days. He had 140 plate appearances, but it’s the at-bats that count, not plate appearances.
In those 140 trips to the plate, Mountcastle drew 11 walks, had two sacrifice flies and was hit by a pitch once. He walked once every 12.7 times to the plate. In 2019, his final minor league season, Mountcastle walked 24 times in 553 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk. That’s once every 23 times or about half as often.
Because Mountcastle’s plate discipline improved, he’s rewarded with another opportunity at the Rookie of the Year in 2021.
If Mountcastle wins the award, he would be ineligible in 2021. Otherwise, he’ll have to endure the end-of-season rookie dress-up tradition, which I assume the Orioles bypassed this year. There’s a baseball tradition in which rookies are made to wear silly costumes at the beginning of the last road trip of each season, but if Mountcastle has another strong season next year, I don’t think he’ll mind participating.
Mountcastle was named to Baseball America’s All-Rookie team, and he’s the only one of the eight American Leaguers on the team who will be eligible next year.
Seattle outfielder Kyle Lewis was considered the favorite in 2020 because of a hot start, but he had a rough September. Lewis hit just .143 last month to finish with a .262 average, an on-base average of .364 and a .437 slugging average. His OPS average of .801 in 58 games is below Mountcastle’s .878.
Because he did play a full season with the Mariners, Lewis, who hit 11 homers and drove in 28 runs, will have the advantage over Mountcastle, who hit five homers and had 23 RBIs.
It’s been common for players who didn’t begin the season with their club to win Rookie of the Year. In 2019, Houston’s Yordan Álvarez didn’t debut until June 9 when he homered against the Orioles. He was unanimously elected Rookie of the Year, but that was for a 162-game season.
Fall frenzy: Because of the short season, Major League Baseball negotiated a 16-team postseason with the Players Association, and they’d like to keep one of 12 or 14 teams for next year and beyond.
Difficult talks are expected, but if more money comes the players’ way, they’ll probably agree.
I watched a chunk of each game in the wild-card round, including the eight games on Wednesday. While I was there for the noon start for Cincinnati-Atlanta, I wasn’t there past midnight for the end of the Yankees-Indians and Brewers-Dodgers game.
I thought it was a lot of fun and, since I can watch baseball during the day, afternoon playoff games are appealing.
But the final game of the White Sox-Athletics series was brutal. None of the 17 pitchers used for both teams pitched more than two innings.
I did enjoy hearing Oakland centerfielder Ramón Laureano’s comments, although some were offended by the language. I couldn’t imagine media-friendly Buck Showalter allowing any of his players to be mic’d up, and I recall he wasn’t exactly a fan of being interviewed during the games.
Since the Orioles played only five of the 16 teams involved in the initial rounds, I had to do lots of studying on the seven Central teams that have been eliminated.
The Orioles last played the White Sox on May 1, 2019 and won’t see them until May 27, 2021. They will have played six games against Miami during that time.
Hall of Famers lost: Besides 2020 being a sad year for everyone, it’s been an awful year for Baseball Hall of Famers.
In the last six months, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline and Tom Seaver have died.
Gibson’s death was announced shortly after his St. Louis Cardinals were eliminated by the San Diego Padres on Friday.
Brock, Kaline and Seaver would have fit into contemporary baseball, but many pointed out that Gibson’s aggressive style of pitching inside would not be tolerated these days.
Despite his reputation, Gibson never led the National League in hit batsman and hit only 102 of the more than 16,000 he faced in his 17-year career.
He would have been a superior pitcher in any era, and his aggressiveness would be welcome today.
Gibson pitched a complete game in Game 7 of the 1964 World Series against the Yankees. He gave up two home runs in the ninth inning as the Yankees narrowed the Cardinals’ lead to 7-5.
After the game, reporters asked St. Louis manager Johnny Keane why he left a tiring Gibson in the game.
“I had a commitment to his heart,” Keane said.