Mancini's rough start; Making sense of Orioles' outfield; Urías' solid week - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Mancini’s rough start; Making sense of Orioles’ outfield; Urías’ solid week

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

With 16 games played, the Orioles’ 2021 season is about 10 percent complete. That means, if you extrapolate, Trey Mancini’s three home runs and 11 runs batted in would be 30 homers and 110 RBIs, numbers that might be expected of him.

On the other hand, his 19 strikeouts extrapolate into 190, and his batting average of .186 is hardly what anyone expects of him.

Mancini is obviously pressing, and he doesn’t look like himself at the plate or in the field.

Taking a sliver of the season, which is what 10 percent is, and expecting that Mancini—or anyone else—will continue at the pace is unlikely.

Take Maikel Franco. He has 14 RBIs in 16 games. I can’t imagine anyone thinks that he’ll drive in 140 runs.

The Orioles’ 7-9 record isn’t awful after winning two of three against the Texas Rangers this past weekend, and they’ve managed to play respectably without three of their top hitters, Mancini, Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander, producing.

Mountcastle has struck out 21 times and walked just twice, and he’s batting just .180 with a .203 on-base percentage. Santander’s stats are nearly identical — 17 strikeouts to two walks, a .182 average and a .217 on-base average.

If Mancini, Mouncastle and Santander can heat up, the Orioles will be more competitive in an American League East that hardly looks as fearsome as it did when the season began.

The Orioles lost two of three to the New York Yankees from April 5-7, and the Yankees trail the Orioles in the AL East with a 5-10 record.

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After their season-opening three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Red Sox are 11-6, a surprising division leader.

Trying to make sense of the standings this early in a season is foolish but seeing the Yankees behind the Orioles can be amusing, at least for the moment.

Outfield picture: Assuming Austin Hays returns to the active list when the Orioles open a two-game series in Miami on Tuesday night, manager Brandon Hyde will have some decisions to make.

Putting Hays in left and keeping Cedric Mullins in center and Santander in right probably will be the usual alignment. If Mountcastle and Mancini are either the first baseman or the designated hitter, does that mean that DJ Stewart’s playing time is cut severely?

Stewart’s played just nine games, hardly a fair trial, and the Orioles would like to see him play regularly for an extended time to make a fair judgment on him.

But unless someone gets hurt, that might be difficult to do.

Most important, they want to see how Hays plays in an extended trial. They’ve liked what they’ve seen when he’s been healthy, and he’ll have to play without injury for more than just a few weeks for them to feel he’s an indispensable part of the Orioles

A healthy Hays and Mullins diversifies the offense and makes the team fun to watch.

Hays’ return could mean the end of Ryan McKenna’s first shot with the Orioles. It’s a shame that there’s probably no room on the 26-man roster for McKenna, who has been a useful addition.

McKenna has played 10 games since his April 5th addition, starting only two, but having a solid defensive outfielder on the bench with speed isn’t a bad thing.

With a 14-man pitching staff, that means a three-man bench. Since the Orioles are trying to conserve starters’ innings and keep at least one Rule 5 pitcher on the staff, having a player like McKenna might not work.

At the moment, Tyler Wells is on the active roster, and the other Rule 5 pitcher, Mac Sceroler, is on the 10-day injured list.

Wells has been in four games, all lopsided ones, and Hyde is attempting to keep him out of what he calls high-leverage situations. Sceroler was in two games before he was placed on the injured list.

It’s too bad that the Orioles can’t carry 13 position players. Having a player who can pinch-run, as McKenna does, can make for a more intriguing roster.

Who’s on second: The Orioles began the season with Rio Ruiz at second base, but while his play there has been fine, his bat hasn’t been. Ruiz is hitting just .133 (6-for-45).

On Sunday, Hyde started Ramón Urías at second. Urías completed  his best week in the major leagues, hitting a home run in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against Seattle, and winning the second game with a run-scoring single.

In Sunday’s game, Urías had two of the team’s five hits, and in nine games is hitting .278 with an .816 OPS.

When the Orioles activated Stewart from the 10-day injured list earlier this month, Pat Valaika, who has a more extensive major league resume than Urías, was optioned to the alternate training site at Bowie, raising some eyebrows.

Valaika had a solid offensive season in 2020 and seemed to be the logical utility player for the roster. Instead, Urías, who some suggested would be cut from the 40-man roster this winter, has stayed and played solidly.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Orioles20

    April 20, 2021 at 8:08 am

    I think Urias deserves more of a chance. He had two hits against a righty on Sunday. He is doing better then Ruiz by a mile. Ruiz has been giving every opportunity to show something. While he looks like a natural second baseman he hasn’t hit a lick. Urias has been hitting his last couple appearances. The lack of a true utility player seems to be hurting this team. If you’re going to play Ruiz and Urias in the same lineup then a guy like valika is needed. The short bench came back to hurt them on Sunday when you could have pinch ran for Franco.

    • Icterus fan

      April 20, 2021 at 1:34 pm

      Both Ruiz and Urias need more opportunity. Ruiz with 45 plate appearances this year. He’s been surprisingly adept at second base, though his robust .133 batting average is woeful.

      Same with Santander. He’s cold right now, but do we want to flush him and watch him blossom into a good player on another team?

      If Hays comes back and has another injury, as is his pattern, we’ll need to have some other options.

  2. Hallbe62

    April 20, 2021 at 8:25 am

    As far as the Hays/Stewart “look see” in LF,…….. let’s not forget that Mounty has played more than a few there as well.

    It’s a very crowded situation in LF when everyone is healthy. I don’t see how any of the 3 can get enough playing time (70+ games) to make an accurate assessment on how they’d fare there over the long haul.

  3. Orial

    April 20, 2021 at 8:31 am

    Summing that all up it looks like Santander is the expendable one down the road. His play(maybe defensively it does) doesn’t really stand out compared to those lined up behind him–it should and maybe will eventually. For all the criticism Stewart has taken over the years it really seems he’s ready to step up now. I wonder what a full-time McKenna would look like(a poor man’s Hays?). Wondering if a DH split for Mancini/Mountcastle could actually have Mancini taking the majoriry of AB’s at DH?

  4. Phil770

    April 20, 2021 at 8:41 am

    Could be that Santander goes to IL, not sure he has recovered from his oblique injury in ST.

  5. BarstoolSleeper

    April 20, 2021 at 9:11 am

    Hays/Stewart/Santander have all been bitten by the injury bug so it’s a crowded outfield to an extent. As Rich pointed out, the season is only just beginning with less than 10% of the games being played. Slumps at the plate are going to turn into hot streaks and vice versa (Mullins). Hard to take away anything of substance or concrete having played less than a month of baseball. Having said that, pitching has been an unexpected bright spot overall.

  6. Triandos 11

    April 20, 2021 at 9:18 am

    Hard to send down a guy (Stewart )that you bat 3rd in the lineup, just saying. But not sure he belongs in that spot anyway. People bailing on Santander right now confuses me. To me he has shown great potential in the not so distant past and you would think he deserves to stay where he is. Stewart had a couple good games but there is a lot more to it than that. Hays was definitely missed in my opinion, and could be the new catalyst for this team if he can stay healthy. Hyde does have a dilemma in the outfield and also at second base. Not sure of Ruiz or Urias to be honest as future second basemen for the Orioles and doubt anyone else is either. Thus both are expendable at any time. Ruiz has shown sporadic potential and Urias track record with the bat not exciting. Couple guys downstairs might be better options. Hyde and the gang going to have to make some decisions in the near future.

    • Birdman

      April 20, 2021 at 10:37 am

      Agree that folks souring on Santander after 16 games is pretty weird … in his last 588 ABs, the guy has 33HRs and 99 RBI, and plays quality defense.

  7. Bhoffman1

    April 20, 2021 at 10:36 am

    I like Mancini as DH for awhile and Ryan on 1st base. So far he has three hits and l assume looks more relaxed. With Hays back I guess DJ sits down but he’s also looking better. Time to give Urias a permanent shot at 2nd base and release Ruiz and bring up Valeka. Time to look forward anything you can get for Sisco. The O’s screwed him up and he’s a lost cause here

  8. Bhoffman1

    April 20, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    He’s back can Hays stay healthy for the rest of the season.

    • CalsPals

      April 20, 2021 at 3:46 pm

      Keep your fingers crossed…go O’s…

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