Orioles' Mountcastle hopes streak is a sign that he's regaining stroke - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Mountcastle hopes streak is a sign that he’s regaining stroke

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Orioles first baseman/designated hitter Ryan Mountcastle has had his downs during the 2021 season. He thinks things are starting to look up.

Mountcastle had a hit in his sixth consecutive game in the Orioles’ 8-4 win over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday. He also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

“All these pitchers up here know what they’re doing, they’re really good,” Mountcastle said after Friday’s game. “When you’re going through a tough spell these guys know what you’re thinking at all times. Going up there and being relaxed and not thinking about too much is what’s helping me the last couple of days.”

Mountcastle made a strong first impression in 2020, hitting .333 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 35 games. He struck out 30 times and walked 11. This year, he’s hitting .202. Before his six-game streak started, Mountcastle was batting .167. He has struck out 30 times in 26 games and has walked just four times.

When Mountcastle came to the big leagues last August, he surprised observers with how well he hit. Last month, he surprised others with how much he struggled.

Hitting coach Don Long says that Mountcastle’s stats can be misleading.

“I looked at his chase rates a couple of days ago this year compared to last year, and it’s almost the same,” he said before Friday’s game.

“It’s not like he’s chasing more than he did last year. When he swung in the zone last year, in particular on fastballs, his production was much better.”

Long believes that even when Mountcastle was hitting well, adjustments must be made for long-term success.

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“There are guys [whose swings] look ugly and can always hit, and they’ve hit from the time they were kids all the way through the big leagues,” Long said. “But there’s many times where guys do need to make some adjustments, and so I think that’s kind of where Ryan is right now.”

Mountcastle spent five years in the minor leagues, appearing at every level, and repeating Double-A Bowie after he was promoted from High-A Frederick in 2017. He hit just .222 in 39 games with the Baysox, walking only three times and striking out 35.

“I’ve had guys over the years who the first time they struggled was at the major league level for a prolonged period of time, and that is the toughest place to go through that for the first time. No doubt about it, because you’re asking yourself to make adjustments against the best pitching there is.

“From my standpoint, having been in development for many, many years, you almost hope you challenge a prospect-type guy and he does have a period of struggle coming up so they learn how to deal with it and they learn that they’re going to be OK.”

In Mountcastle’s case, he returned to the Baysox in 2018 and hit .297 in 109 games. Before his current streak, Mountcastle had been 1-for-28.

“I’m really encouraged by his at-bats here the last few days,” Long said.

“Again, we’ve been trying to make some fundamental changes, not in his swing, but in his pre-pitch in terms of his rhythm and timing and really being ready to hit and trying to simplify what he does, so he gets to a consistent, strong position to hit, so he can make better decisions about what he swings at. And when he does swing, put the ball in play hard and have the at-bat be over.”

Mountcastle’s RBI was just his eighth of the season, and his first since April 17th. He hasn’t hit a home run since the Orioles’ home opener on April 8th. Long is confident Mountcastle’s stats will steadily improve.

“You’re not going to dig yourself out of it in one game,” Long said. “But if you focus on doing that every day, doing the right kind of work and being committed to it every day, over the course of a long season the results will show. And I completely believe that he’s on that path right now and that’s the direction he’s headed.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Shamus

    May 2, 2021 at 9:45 am

    I like “ Orioles first basemen/ DH” Mountcastle. So the outfield experiment is over.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 2, 2021 at 10:11 am

      He played left when Hays was out. He’s been the DH 12 times. DH is a position.

    • Beachdogs

      May 2, 2021 at 10:46 am

      He seems more patient at the plate and seeing the ball better

  2. Orial

    May 2, 2021 at 10:22 am

    Numberbone: the OF rotation for him is mainly gone(imho). Hays’ return has solidified the decense by leaps and bounds. Love the new Mountcastle approach basically(seems it started late in the NYY series). Taking the ball to RF a lot. BUT one problem–he’s driving the ball to the warning track where it seems to be getting continuously caught. I’m no coach but if he can lower those drives. I’m sure that’s nitpicking. He’s close–just lower those drives. Is it fair to say he’s showing “too much” power to RF( as weird as that sounds)?

    • BarstoolSleeper

      May 2, 2021 at 12:02 pm

      Those warning track balls probably get out in June July August.

  3. Birdman

    May 2, 2021 at 11:56 am

    Interesting to read comments from Mountcastle and the hitting coach about making adjustments at the plate … very different attitude from Chris Davis who appeared to stubbornly refuse to make adjustments, even after several years of abject failure.

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 2, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    Was there ever any doubt that he would regain his stroke? And I agree with the BarstoolSleeper in that it’s just a matter of time ’til they start going over the wall.

    Now if Santander can just get healthy enough to join him, we’d have a pretty decent lineup.

  5. orf_nac_slaPslaC

    May 2, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    Odd thing about Mountcastle, his OPS vs righties had dropped quite a bit.
    2020 OPS vs R/L 0.947/0.657
    2021 0.419/0.713
    Lefty for the As today, so hoping he pushes the hit streak to 7 games.

  6. CalsPals

    May 2, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    Gold glove Urias & bad news birds strike in the 1st…go O’s…

    • orf_nac_slaPslaC

      May 2, 2021 at 4:24 pm

      Mr. Sunshine! Just one error on the play? Hater gonna hate! Carry on…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        May 2, 2021 at 6:43 pm

        Hate is such a strong word. I don’t think anybody around here actually hates Ramon Urias. And despite what you may believe, when he’s in the game, I DO root for him. I find it hard to believe other O’s fans actually root against him.

        It’s simply that he’s the least talented position player on a team without a lot of talent. The team needs to put players on the field that are much better than Ramon Urias. I believe those players currently exist in our minor league talent pool. I don’t hate the guy.

    • CalsPals

      May 2, 2021 at 4:28 pm

      Try two, you can count that high can’t you…FRO…go O’s…

    • Icterus fan

      May 2, 2021 at 10:40 pm

      Mountcastle will come around. He’s produced at every level.
      Good to see Mancini looking like he’s enjoying himself a bit. He seems like he’s hard on himself sometimes.
      I don’t “hate” Urias either. I’m not a statistician, but he just doesn’t seem to be a very good player. I don’t think acknowledging that is hate.

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