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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where John Means could be Rookie of the Year

I mean, he probably won’t. But he’s at least one of the three finalists, which isn’t too shabby.

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MLB: Game Two-Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

MLB awards season is upon us, which usually doesn’t mean much to the Orioles. Of the three major awards for players — Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year — the O’s haven’t had a winner in 28 years, when Cal Ripken was named AL MVP in 1991. The Birds haven’t had a Rookie of the Year since Gregg Olson in 1989 and have a nearly 40-year Cy Young drought since Steve Stone took home the honors in 1980.

The O’s will be shut out of two of those categories again this season, but for once, they have a fighting chance in the ROY race. Yesterday, standout lefty John Means was named as one of the three finalists for the award, with the winner to be announced on the 11th. The ballots have already been cast, which means Means (heh) was one of the top three vote-getters.

It’s a well-deserved honor. Means was far and away the best rookie pitcher in the AL this season, and the second-best in the majors behind Atlanta’s Mike Soroka (who’s a finalist for NL ROY). Means started the season as a fringe-prospect long reliever and finished it as a breakout staff ace and All-Star, going 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA while providing the Orioles’ best success story of the year.

Alas, Means probably isn’t going to win. While he might edge out Rays infielder (and University of Maryland product) Brandon Lowe, it’ll be tough for him to overtake the odds-on favorite, Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez. When a guy doesn’t get to the majors until June and still blasts 27 home runs, 78 RBIs, and a 1.067 OPS for a team that wins 107 games, that’s a pretty clear-cut Rookie of the Year winner. I’d be shocked if anyone but Alvarez takes home the award.

Still, that doesn’t make Means’ brilliant season any less special. He might not bring home the hardware, but the O’s are more than happy to have him on their side for at least the next six years.


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Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You share your day with 2019 Oriole Josh Lucas (29), who had a 5.74 ERA in nine games before the O’s released him in August. What’s your favorite Josh Lucas memory? It’s also the birthday of Javy Lopez, the Birds’ javylicious 2004-06 catcher, who turns 49.

Today marks the 22-year anniversary of one of the lowest points in recent O’s history, Davey Johnson’s resignation as O’s skipper on the day he was named AL Manager of the Year. Despite making the playoffs in both of his seasons at the helm, including a wire-to-wire first-place finish in 1997, Johnson was forced out because of a dispute with owner Peter Angelos. That kicked off the Orioles’ infamous 14-year stretch of losing seasons.

In happier O’s news, it was on this date in 1976 that Jim Palmer won his third and final Cy Young award, after going 22-13 with a 2.51 ERA and 23 complete games. And in 1958, the O’s named Lee MacPhail (father of Andy) as their general manager. The Hall of Famer helped build a Birds club that became an annual powerhouse, including agreeing to terms on the franchise-altering Frank Robinson trade in 1965.