After playing just 111 games in the major leagues, Adley Rutschman has been voted Most Valuable Oriole. Rutschman, who made his major league debut on May 21st, is hitting .254 with 13 home runs, 42 RBIs with a team-leading .809 OPS.
The switch-hitting catcher, who was the first overall pick in the 2019 draft and missed the first six weeks of the season because of a sore right triceps muscle, also leads the team with 35 doubles, a record for Oriole rookies and catchers.
“It’s a great honor,” Rutschman said. “The guys around me make for this experience. I’ve said that all year. It means a lot. I’m very thankful.”
The Orioles’ record when Rutschman plays is 62-49. Since he joined the club, the Orioles are 66-53, and their team earned-run average is 3.77 when he catches.
Manager Brandon Hyde said the team improved markedly with Rutschman’s arrival.
“We started playing a lot better when he got here,” he said. “Just the way that he is behind the plate, his leadership skills way beyond his years. The at-bats he takes is like a veteran. He’s only going to improve offensively. He’s only going to improve defensively, too.
“His ability to impact the game both defensively and offensively is enormous, especially from behind the plate, a prime position, where you’re working with pitchers. Our pitching has improved dramatically this year. Our catching has been a big part of that and Rutschman’s been right in the middle of our improvement … He’s had a really, really good rookie year and a big part of our turnaround.”
The Orioles are 82-77 with three games remaining against the Toronto Blue Jays, starting Monday night. They were 52-110 last season. They will finish with a winning record for the first time since 2016.
Rutschman was touched by his manager’s praise.
“The more that you value someone in your life, the more that they pour into you, the way that our coaching staff and our players do,” Rutschman said. “You value those opinions so much. That means the world that he gave those kind words to me and felt that I deserved those kind words. That means the world to me. I’m just fortunate to be out here and play with all these guys.”
The award is voted on by media members who cover the team.
“My job is to go out and compete and play as hard as I can every day and learn and continue to move on,” Rutschman said. “That’s my job and if people feel I deserve that recognition, that’s awesome to see, but my job is to go out and do the best I can.”
Rutschman is the third rookie to win the award, joining reliever Gregg Olson in 1989 and starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez in 2002.
“The individual honors are great,” Rutschman said. “It’s very cool, but more important is that team focus and just the guys around us and the energy we’ve shared all year.”
He’s the third catcher to win. Gus Triandos won in 1958 and Chris Hoiles in 1993.
Rutschman will be presented the award before Monday night’s game against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards, weather permitting.
“We’ve got a good thing going on right now,” Rutschman said. “It’s going to be exciting to see what the coming years are going to bring.”
Félix Bautista, Austin Hays, Jordan Lyles, Jorge Mateo, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Rougned Odor and Anthony Santander also received votes.
“The cool thing this year was that you had a lot of people to pick from,” Hyde said.
I voted for Santander, Rutschman and Bautista. Ballots had to be submitted by September 6th.
Bautista out for season: Closer Félix Bautista, who hasn’t pitched since Friday because of left knee discomfort, has been shut down, Hyde said. He was placed on the 15-day injured list retroactive to Saturday.
Bautista who missed time late last month because of arm fatigue, felt discomfort in the knee during the eighth inning of Friday’s win over the New York Yankees.
In 65 games, Bautista was 4-4 with a 2.19 ERA and converted 15 of 17 save chances. Bautista inherited the closer’s job when the Orioles traded Jorge López to Minnesota on August 2nd.
“So happy with the season he had and him going forward,” Hyde said. “What a great story, great story for us, great story for him. Loved watching him pitch, looking forward to next year.”
The Orioles recalled right-hander Yennier Cano, who had been on the taxi squad. Cano, who was acquired from the Twins in the deal for López, allowed seven runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings on September 10th in his only game with the Orioles.