It’s the time of the year to begin contemplating end-of-season awards. While the Most Valuable Player award has been conceded to the Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani, with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. heading for runner-up, it’s conceivable that Orioles centerfielder Cedric Mullins could get votes.
Mullins enters Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays fourth in the American League with a .306 average and tied with Guerrero for the league lead with 150 hits. He’s fifth among AL position players with a 5.0 WAR.
There are several candidates for Rookie of the Year, and Ryan Mountcastle is among them. Mountcastle leads the Orioles with 25 home runs, one ahead of Mullins, and his 73 RBIs puts him ahead of his teammates.
Manager Brandon Hyde said Mullins and Mountcastle have stood out during a difficult season.
“Cedric Mullins, obviously a great year,” Hyde said. “Mountcastle, I’ve really been impressed with Ryan. I’m seeing a young major leaguer make improvements in his second year, both offensively and defensively. The quality of the at-bats he’s taken the last couple of months, how hard he hits the balls, the athleticism, the power that’s really starting to show up.”
Mountcastle needs four home runs in the final 32 games to set the Orioles’ record for most home runs by a rookie. Cal Ripken hit 28 in 1982.
“He hits a lot of balls hard at people, especially as of late,” Hyde said.
Mountcastle received a third-place vote for Rookie of the Year last season when he played 35 of the Orioles’ 60 games. He had 126 at-bats, four short of the 130 that would have erased his rookie status.
Mullins should become the first Oriole to receive MVP votes since Jonathan Schoop finished 12th in 2017.
“In this tough year, I think those are two bright spots for us, going forward, potential impact hitters in the lineup,” Hyde said.
Mancini gets support: After missing the 2020 season because of colon cancer surgery and chemotherapy, Trey Mancini is not in the lineup for Tuesday’s game.
Mancini, who has played 124 of the Orioles’ 130 games, has the same batting average, .256, for the second half of the season that he had at the All-Star break, but his power numbers are down.
He has hit just four homers and driven in nine runs in 38 games since the break. Mancini hit 16 home runs and drove in 55 in the first half of the season.
“I think whatever Trey Mancini has given us this year is an absolute bonus from what he went through last year,” Hyde said. “I don’t think anybody had any understanding of what this year was going to be. For him to be in the lineup, 90-plus percent of the time is a credit to him. It shows a lot about his character and how much he wants to be out there.
“He hasn’t had a good couple of months, and he’s putting so much pressure on himself, and he’s taking it extremely hard, and we constantly have to remind what his world looked like a year ago. I’m giving hm a day off today because he’s so hard on himself and feels like he needs to produce. I’m just happy to see him on a daily basis.”
Notes: Hyde said he’ll add a fifth starter after Thursday’s offday to replace Spenser Watkins, who was sent to Triple-A Norfolk after Sunday’s game. He didn’t specify who it will be. The Orioles will add two players on Wednesday when the roster expands to 28. Left-hander Alexander Wells, who has started three games, is with the taxi squad and is expected to be added.