The Orioles haven’t had an American League MVP winner on their team since Cal Ripken won for the second time in 1991. They haven’t had a Cy Young winner since Steve Stone took down that award in 1980. A Rookie of the Year drought dates to 1989, when Gregg Olson was the winner.
This year is not the year that any of those streaks will be broken, although O’s fans can be excited that Trey Mancini is in the top three for AL Rookie of the Year.
The “finalists” for each of the four BBWAA-voted season awards were revealed on Monday evening. I put finalists in quotes because this is really just revealing the top three finishers for the awards, which includes Manager of the Year as well as the three above, with the winners and full results to be announced next week. Voting concluded before the postseason.
An Orioles absence from the top three spots for Cy Young hardly needs to be explained. The starting rotation was horrible, while closer Zach Britton, who finished fourth last year, was injured and not great when he did pitch.
The O’s recent top MVP contenders like Manny Machado and Chris Davis, did not perform to their past quality. And well, Manager of the Year doesn’t go to a guy who helmed a 75-win team. That’s just the way it is.
That leaves Rookie of the Year. The Orioles for once had a rookie who played the entirety of his rookie season and played well. That’s Trey Mancini, who batted .293/.338/.488 over 147 games, hitting 24 home runs along the way.
Even before the names of the finalists were revealed tonight, we could already be sure that Mancini wasn’t going to win, because this is the Year of Aaron Judge. Mancini is a “finalist” and the result is the same as if he wasn’t. He’s not going to win. Judge is going to win.
When a rookie hits 52 home runs and OPSes over 1.000, that’s the winner. Everybody else is playing for second. The only question was whether Mancini would sneak into the top three over Boston’s Andrew Benintendi, who has the benefit of being a young former first round pick who plays in Boston, or 33-year-old Yuli Gurriel of the world champion Astros.
Batting is just one aspect of the game, of course, but here’s the batting lines for those three guys lined up:
- Mancini: .293/.338/.488, 117 wRC+
- Benintendi: .271/.352/.424, 103 wRC+
- Gurriel: .299/.332/.486, 118 wRC+
wRC+ is Weighted Runs Created, a stat that measures offensive output using 100 as the league-average baseline. The higher over 100 you are, the farther above average you are. So Mancini is comparable to Gurriel in this category, while both are ahead of Benintendi. If you were wondering, Judge is far above all rookie competitors with his 173 wRC+.
Benintendi has the advantage that he walks a lot, has some speed, and is a better defender than the other two. Both Benintendi and Gurriel have the advantage that they played for division winners. Mancini made it into the top three over Gurriel.
Congratulations to Mancini on a fine rookie season. Wherever the BBWAA voters put him, he can be proud of what he’s accomplished this year.