Orioles' Mountcastle is a long shot for Rookie of the Year - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Mountcastle is a long shot for Rookie of the Year

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Ryan Mountcastle had a strong season for the Orioles. However, the slugging first baseman, who set a team record for most home runs by a rookie, isn’t likely to be the Rookie of the Year.

It doesn’t diminish Mountcastle’s season. It’s just that there’s an unusually strong field of candidates for the award. In many years, Mountcastle would win the award. This year, he’ll be fortunate to crack the top three.

If it wasn’t for the 60-game schedule of 2020, Mountcastle wouldn’t be eligible. He had 126 at-bats last year, four short of the 130 maximum for rookies.

Mountcastle played in 35 of the 60 games, hitting .333 with five home runs and 23 RBIs with an .878 OPS. He received one third-place vote for Rookie of the Year.

Mountcastle started slowly this season, hitting  just one home run in his first 30 games. He finished with 33, surpassing Cal Ripken Jr.’s team record of 28 home runs, which had stood since 1982. Mountcastle also had 89 RBIs, a .255 average and a .796 OPS.

Mountcastle, who played decently in left field in 2020, didn’t start in left field after June 20th this year. Instead, he returned to first base and steadily improved even though his defensive WAR (Wins Above Replacment) was -1.5. Overall, Mountcastle’s WAR was .9.

The favorite for Rookie of the Year is Tampa Bay outfielder Randy Arozarena, who was the offensive star of the postseason in 2020.

This year, Arozarena hit .274 with an .815 OPS. He hit 20 homers, drove in 69 runs and stole 20 bases. His WAR was 4.2.

Arozarena had his way against the Orioles, hitting .448 (26-for-58) with eight home runs and 19 RBIs in 13 games, helping the Rays win 18 of 19 against Baltimore.


Two of Arozarena’s Tampa Bay teammates, right-handed pitcher Shane McLanahan and shortstop Wander Franco, could get support.

McLanahan, who was 10-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 25 starts, was also helped by his numbers against the Orioles. He was 4-0 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts, coming in just 39 days from July 20th-August 27th.

Franco probably would be the favorite if he had been recalled before June 22nd. In 70 games, Franco accumulated a 3.5 WAR, hitting .288 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs and an .810 OPS. Franco played brilliantly at short.

Another candidate is Texas outfielder Adolis Garcia, who had a 3.8 WAR because of his outstanding defense. Garcia had a 1.6 defensive WAR and 16 outfield assists. Garcia also hit .243 with a .741 OPS, 31 homers and 90 RBIs, but struck out 194 times.

Houston right-hander Luis Garcia was 11-8 with a 3.30 ERA and is likely to get support, as well.

A personal favorite is Cleveland reliever Emmanuel Clase, who had a 1.29 ERA, 24 saves and an 0.962 WHIP. Boston reliever Garrett Whitlock, who was chosen in the Rule 5 draft, was 6-4 with a 1.96 ERA and two saves. Although Whitlock pitched in bigger games than Clase, he didn’t pitch in the highest leverage situations.

Winning the Rookie of the Year award is no guarantee of future success. Last year, Seattle outfielder Kyle Lewis was the unanimous winner. This year, right knee surgery restricted him to 36 games.

While lots of big names, including Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, have won in recent years, so did Rangers reliever Neftali Perez and Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson.

Perez saved 40 games for Texas in 2010 but has pitched for six other teams since 2015.

Hellickson was 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA in 2011 and was traded to the Orioles by Philadelphia for Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim in July 2017 and went 2-6 with a 6.97 ERA in 10 starts for the Orioles.

Six Orioles have won the award: Shortstop Ron Hansen (1960), outfielder Curt Blefary (1965), outfielder Al Bumbry (1973), first baseman Eddie Murray (1977), Ripken (1982) and reliever Gregg Olson (1989).

Since Olson’s win, each of the other 14 American League teams have had at least one Rookie of the Year winner. If not Mountcastle, perhaps Adley Rutschman can break the drought for the Orioles in 2022.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB





  1. CalsPals

    October 13, 2021 at 7:45 am

    My personal favorite is Mountcastle…go O’s…

  2. Kangaroo Court

    October 13, 2021 at 7:50 am

    While I think that Ryan Mountcastle more than deserves the Rookie of the Year award, it’s all about winning for these awards and Tampa Bay is a winning ball club. And Arozareno has that edge because of it. I do think that Ryan was more valuable to the Orioles than Arozareno mainly because of the talent level difference in both teams. But “The Homer” in me says Ryan Mountcastle is the Rookie of the Year!

  3. HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

    October 13, 2021 at 7:52 am

    Thanks for the superb AL ROY review Rich! Wander Franco has my “vote” even though he only played 70 games, though I think Arozarena will win it. Great to see Clase and Whitlock get a mention in the article, both have had very good but under the radar years IMO. Ramon Urias had the highest WAR among Orioles rookies in 2021 even though he only played 85 games, the position bonus and penalties part of BR WAR can be confusing/seem biased against 1B. Looking forward to G5 of SF-LAD series, go Giants! Hoping M. Yaz can get a hit!

  4. Orial

    October 13, 2021 at 8:22 am

    Agree Rich,Mountcastle’s overall game leaves him a little short but that’s nothing to be ashamed of. The future looks bright. Now as the seasons progress the O’s may be more well represented with some of these younger “stars” hitting the scene. Rutschman and Cowser(2021 draft pick) come to mind.

  5. musicmanjr

    October 13, 2021 at 8:33 am

    Randy Arozerena will win the Rookie of the Year award. Arozerena is the total package (speed, power, etc.). Although Ryan Mountcastle had similar offensive production, voters are gonna consider what each candidate contributed to his team. The O’s finished dead last in the majors WITH Mountcastle’s stats. Arozerena led the Rays to the American League East division title. We all know that voters aren’t supposed to take standings into consideration…but they DO!

    • CalsPals

      October 13, 2021 at 8:41 am

      Again, Arozerena/Franco got to hit off of the O’s pitchers for the season, Mountcastle had to hit off of the AL East pitchers for the season, Arozerena was anointed ROY during last yrs playoffs by the media…Arozerena probably isn’t even the best rookie on his team, lol…it is what it is…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 13, 2021 at 9:08 am

      You make one good argument here, and one that’s not so good.

      Mountcastle’s numbers against teams over .500 and under .500 are roughly the same. Arozarena’s are much better against teams under .500.

      Franco’s numbers are, like Mountcastle’s are roughly equal against winning and losing teams. In 11 games against the Orioles, he hit .268 with a homer and eight RBIs. Playing less than a half-season will cost him.

      As for this media argument, again, the award is voted on by 30 members of the BBWAA, who don’t know which of the awards they will be voting on until mid-August.

      During last year’s postseason telecasts, there was talk about Arozarena’s extraordinary postseason and how strange it was that he was still eligible for Rookie of the Year. I remember thinking that Arozarena and Mountcastle were both still eligible.

      However, it’s ludicrous to believe that the voters were influenced by chatter from a year ago. Arozarena had an excellent season, and so did Mountcastle.

    • CalsPals

      October 13, 2021 at 9:39 am

      I’ll disagree that its ludicrous from a yr ago when people have just been & continue to be influenced by things from 10 yrs ago, unfortunately it happens all the time…go O’s…

  6. Bman

    October 13, 2021 at 9:11 am

    Can’t got on board with Arozerena as ROY. If he gets it, that was preordained from last year.

    • CalsPals

      October 13, 2021 at 9:40 am

      Agree, see above…go O’s…

  7. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 13, 2021 at 9:24 am

    This is where WAR is simply wrong.

    Mountcastle deserves the award on offensive numbers alone. 13 more homers and 20 rbis more than Arozarena in roughly the same amount of at bats. Arozarena’s 20 stolen bases and 94 runs scored still leave him 3 runs shy of the 20 RBI advantage of Mountcastle.

    Close, but give me our budding superstar any day. WAR be damned.

    • CalsPals

      October 13, 2021 at 9:40 am

      :):):)…go Mountcastle & go O’s…

    • dlgruber1

      October 13, 2021 at 1:39 pm

      To paraphrase Edwin Starr:
      “WAR, huh, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.”
      Now that I’ve got that off my chest I’ll say this. I’m assuming Rays didn’t begin season with Franco for team control issues. That absolutely cost him the RoY as he is without a doubt the best player among the candidates. I really hope that young man can stay healthy as he has a terrific career ahead of him. Many contracts have incentives for post season awards so Tampa may have saved money that way as well by holding him back. If there’s this much outcry from O’s fans on RM nor winning the award this year I can only imagine what it will be like if the same thing happens to AR next season that happened to Franco this year, meaning being held back for team control issues, getting called up, having a terrific season but falling short in RoY vote.

    • HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

      October 13, 2021 at 2:33 pm

      Another stat wRC+ measures runs created without bonuses or penalties based on position played like WAR does. There is a good explanation of it on the fangraphs site if you are interested, here is a one sentence excerpt “In Runs Created, instead of looking at a player’s line and listing out all the details (e.g. 23 2B, 15 HR, 55 BB, 110 K, 19 SB, 5 CS), the information is synthesized into one metric in order to say, “Player X was worth 24 runs to his team last year.””

      Arozarena’s wRC+ was 128 in 2021 meaning he contributed 28% more runs to TB than an average player
      Wander wRC+ was 127
      Ramon Urias 115
      Mountcastle 111

      I guess something to look at is how many home runs mighty Mounty would have hit if he played for TB and how many home runs Arozarena’s would have hit if played for BAL. Mighty Mounty (MM) did a great job driving in runs as you mention, he had 89 RBI with 344 base runners on; average for a player with as many PAs as MM was only 68 RBI and that is with 353 base runners on. MM’s 0.309 OBP will probably keep him from winning ROY along with not being able to field well except at 1B and his below average base running. But if ROY were just about HR and RBI, MM would win going away!

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 13, 2021 at 6:57 pm

        Theoretical ….. you own Mountcastle and his 111 wRC+ ……. I own Urias and his superior 115 wRC+ ….

        I’m offering you Urias in trade for Mountcastle ….. Do you make that trade?

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          October 13, 2021 at 8:00 pm

          Errr … I guess that would be a hypothetical …

    • dlgruber1

      October 13, 2021 at 4:53 pm

      Hmmm, thanks for taking the time to look up and show the wRC+. I think that’s a better overall barometer than WAR but I gotta say, and I promise I’m not saying this because of your fondness for Urias, I’m suspect of any offensive stat that could have Uruias ahead of RM. I’m old so I’m content with BA, HRs, RBIs and runs scored and for defense, fielding %. I do like WHIP for pitching but even that is a redundant stat in that if a pitcher has a low WHIP I’m sure he’ll have a corresponding low ERA. Conversely, if his WHIP is high I’m certain his ERA will be as well. Again, thanks for taking the time to look up and show and explain wRC+.

  8. Orioles20

    October 13, 2021 at 9:39 am

    Mountcastle would be rookie of the year had he not getting off to a slow start. April and early May killed him.

  9. Buzz1979

    October 13, 2021 at 10:27 am

    Orioles good at drafting guys who were born to DH!

  10. willmiranda

    October 13, 2021 at 10:40 am

    I have been and remain a big Mounty fan and will be happy if he wins the rookie award. However, I feel his eligibility is on a technicality. I don’t think players should be eligible for more than one year. From what I read here, the guy from Tampa also had his debutante’s ball last year. I do think a team’s record should have some influence on awards in that baseball is a team game, each player having a share in the team’s fate and vice versa. Also, players competing for titles and championships face stiffer competition on a daily basis. Finally, Garcia’s league-leading outfield assists impress me. I guess they just kept challenging the kid.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 13, 2021 at 10:55 am

      Interestingly, Arozarena had more postseason at-bats in 2020 (92) than he had in the regular season (64), and he played in the 2019 postseason for the Cardinals.

      Had there been a full 162-game season, some of these guys would have been eligible last year and others this year. It was a flukey year.

  11. Phil770

    October 13, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    Arozarena’s numbers against the O’s heavily make his numbers look much better than maybe several others under ROY consideration.

  12. CalsPals

    October 13, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    Here’s what is happening in society today, so no one feels hurt, give them ALL ROY awards…lol…;)….go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      October 13, 2021 at 7:00 pm

      The awokening.

  13. Buzz1979

    October 13, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    That is like, even the fat kid gets a trophy!

    • CalsPals

      October 13, 2021 at 12:52 pm

      Absolutely, sad but true, “stout kid”…lol…go O’s…

    • willmiranda

      October 13, 2021 at 2:14 pm

      And I treasure it to this day, Buzz!

      • Buzz1979

        October 13, 2021 at 9:14 pm

        But Willy, you were listed at 5’9″, and just 150 pounds?!

        • willmiranda

          October 13, 2021 at 10:06 pm

          Vitals, courtesy of my agent, Scott Boras.

    • HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

      October 13, 2021 at 2:41 pm

      SMH not appropriate Buzz…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      October 13, 2021 at 7:05 pm

      Absolutely appropriate Buzz.

      Matter of fact .. I don’t think I like the word ‘appropriate’ any more. Kinda sissy-like.

      Let me rephrase .. give ’em hell Buzz!

    • Icterus fan

      October 13, 2021 at 7:22 pm

      Shake it all you want, but that’s Buzz being Buzz.

  14. Kangaroo Court

    October 13, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    Remember the good old days when a hitter was judged on his Batting Average, Runs Batted In and Home Runs and a pitcher on his Won-Lost record and ERA and strikeouts? Wow they were simpler times! I miss them personally.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 13, 2021 at 8:59 pm

      While that sounds great, I always had a feeling that Lou Whitaker was better than Ryne Sandberg. They played the same position at the same time. Sandberg’s stats were similar to Whitaker’s, and he easily got into the Hall of Fame while Whitaker was ignored. Advanced stats have helped make Whitaker’s case for me and others.

      Regrettably, starters don’t go as deep into games as they once did, so win/loss records aren’t as important. Strikeouts are more important than ever. I think ERA is still important, though.

      I actually don’t use a lot of sabermetrics. I like WAR and WHIP, but I like the counting stats, too. The more information the better. I use them when they can help me paint a clearer picture of a player to a reader. Since WAR takes into account defense, that’s a help.

    • dlgruber1

      October 13, 2021 at 10:20 pm

      Hell, I can remember when players took pay cuts on numbers that would make today’s players wanna renegotiate their contract for more money.

    • CalsPals

      October 14, 2021 at 7:07 am

      Games going the wrong way…go O’s…

  15. John in Cincy

    October 17, 2021 at 1:14 am

    Ryan may be shut out of the award this year, but I think he has a higher ceiling than any of the rest of the. If he stays healthy, a 40-home run season is very realistic…and very elite!

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