After such a memorable start to his MLB career in late September last year, Trey Mancini looked to have a good shot at a roster spot in 2017. He played in only five games, but slugged three home runs in 15 plate appearances for an OPS of 1.471. This was a super-small sample size, but a hopeful one nonetheless – especially for a team not very deep in major-league ready prospects.
In a 2017 year when there hasn’t been much to celebrate, but a mess of things to cry over, Mancini has been a breath of fresh air. He has consistently produced, from his opening day pinch-hit single through his current stretch of hitting safely in 12 of his last 13 games while batting .408 with a .453 OBP.
Seeking to find a suitable nickname for the Orioles’ young slugger, some are calling him Boom Boom … as in boxer, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, the lightweight fighter from the 80s. I get the reference to the home run thing, but the nickname still doesn’t ring true for Trey’s unassuming presence.
He’s much more laid back than rugged. He’s understated, yet still delivers a powerful performance. He’s more of a “Henry” Mancini than a “Boom Boom.”
Trey is sneaky good, approaching his prey more like a cat than a raging bull. Like a panther, he strikes, slashing the ball to all fields with a sharp, short stroke. His walk-up song should be the Pink Panther Theme.
Much like the triangle that plays a major part in Henry Mancini’s feline classic, Trey Mancini has unexpectedly become an instrumental figure for the 2017 Orioles. He’s leading the club in AVG (.313), OBP (.355), SLG (.561), and OPS (.916).
If Henry is too wimpy of a nickname for Trey, how about the Pink Panther?
Even though Mancini followed his strong 2016 MLB debut with a solid spring leading the team with 14 RBIs in Grapefruit League action while hitting .333 with three homers in 60 at-bats, it still seemed difficult to figure a way he could make the opening day roster.
After all, how could a first baseman find playing time on a team who will still owe $127 million to 1B Chris Davis after this season? A team that had just signed another first baseman, Mark Trumbo, to a three-year deal to DH and play the outfield? Could they – would they – expect Mancini to suddenly become an outfielder despite Adam Jones’ plea to add more athletic partners to cover all that ground?
That sounds as wacky as the 1970s What’s Happening TV theme song written by … you guessed it, Henry Mancini. But that’s exactly what’s happened. With the Orioles facing five left-handed pitchers in their first 11 games of the season, Showalter gave Mancini six starts. He seized the opportunity by hitting four homers and driving in nine runs for a nifty 1.371 OPS.
And he hasn’t looked back.
Since then he’s earned an everyday spot by performing well against all pitchers – not just the southpaws. He’s actually hitting better against righties – .345/.397/.637/1.034 – through Wednesday’s games.
As the Orioles continue their June swoon and the near future looks bleak, at least we can enjoy watching the growth of Trey “Henry” Mancini.