Baltimore Orioles Season Recap

Baltimore Orioles Season Recap

by October 23, 2021 1 comment

With the strength of the American League East, the Baltimore Orioles were destined to finish in last place this season. They have been downright awful recently, finishing in last place four of the last five years. With the rebuild in full swing, they traded away SS Freddy Galvis and RHP Shawn Armstrong at the deadline for RHP Tyler Burch and cash. Galvis was the only regular over 30 years old as the Orioles go with a youth movement. The outfield of Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, and Anthony Santander are all 27 or younger. First baseman Ryan Mountcastle will be just 25 when next season begins.

Baltimore also has two prospects in the top 10 with catcher Adley Rutschman (#1) and RHP Grayson Rodriguez (#8). They are both looking to make their debuts in 2022. Colton Cowser, the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft, has hit the ground running with a .982 OPS in his first taste of minor league ball. The Orioles also have the first pick in the 2022 MLB Draft to further build their system. The future looks bright.

Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Season Recaps.

Key Info

Manager: Brandon Hyde
Record: 52-110
Position: Last in the AL East
Postseason: Missed Playoffs

Overall Performance

The Orioles tied for the worst record in baseball this season so there won’t be many bright spots. Their offense was horrible, scoring just 659 runs finishing second-to-last in the American League to the Texas Rangers (625). They also finished in the bottom third in the AL in OPS, stolen bases, walks, and strikeouts. There were a few bright spots starting with Trey Mancini returning from colon cancer.

As bad as their offense was, the Orioles’ pitching was even worse. The staff had an MLB-worst 5.84 ERA which was more than a run over the second-worst team in the AL (Minnesota Twins 4.83). They also allowed the most hits (1,518) and the most HRs (258) in the majors. The defense didn’t help much either with -22 DRS as a squad. Let’s get off of the negative stuff though, take a look at the positive, and hand out a few awards.

MVP and Best Hitter of the Year: Cedric Mullins

Mullins struggled at the plate in his first couple of seasons with the Orioles but started to come around last year. In 2021, he became a star. The centerfielder had a 30-30 season with a .372 wOBA and 136 wRC+. He led the team with a 5.7 rWAR and of the 11 players who played 85+ games, Mullins was the only one with an OPS above .800 (.878).

Starting Pitcher of the Year: John Means

Means was the only pitcher who started more than seven games to have an ERA below 5.00 (3.62). He led the team with 146.2 innings pitched and had a solid 18.3 percent K-BB. While he was bitten by the long ball a bit yielding 30 on the season, he managed to limit the damage with an excellent 80.5 percent LOB. Means had a good season and was far and away the best starter on the team.

Relief Pitcher of the Year: Cole Sulser

The late-blooming right-hander tied for the team lead in saves (8) with Cesar Valdez. Sulser had a 2.70 ERA and struck out 73 in just 63.1 innings. He also kept the ball in the yard unlike many of his teammates allowing just five homers. Opposing hitters batted just .207 against him with a .596 OPS.

Best Fielder of the Year: Austin Hays

The Orioles outfielder had 15 DRS which was easily the most on the team with Ryan McKenna second with just three. Hays played both right and left field and his lone error on the season was in centerfield where he was for just six games. He has a shot at a Gold Glove as his 15 DRS is third among all AL outfielders behind Michael A. Taylor (19) and Adolis Garcia (16).

Comeback Player of the Year: Trey Mancini

He will likely win this award for the American League overall so this is an easy choice. Coming back from stage three colon cancer is a feat in itself, let alone doing it and returning to play baseball at the highest level. After missing the 2020 season, Mancini had a solid year at the plate in 2021 slashing .255/.326/.432 with 21 HRs. With a healthy year now under his belt, the slugger should return to top form in 2022.

What’s Next?

As mentioned earlier, the Orioles have the first pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. The rebuild should be kickstarted next season with Rutschman and Rodriguez probably making their debuts along with a young roster. Pitching will be important to get Baltimore out of the AL East basement. They need reliable starters aside from Means. There should be a few free agents who they can look at especially considering the Orioles payroll was only $63 million. If they believe they can make a considerable leap ahead in the AL, Baltimore may consider bringing in a couple of big names.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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