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Anthony Santander named Most Valuable Oriole for 2020 season

Santander’s season was cut short after 37 games and that was still enough to boost him over the field.

MLB: New York Mets at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles announced Anthony Santander as the winner of the 2020 Most Valuable Oriole award on Friday afternoon. Santander hit 11 home runs in the 37 games he played before an oblique injury ended his season and was generally awesome, so congratulations to him for a well-deserved accomplishment.

Who among the local media is allowed to vote and who they vote for is perpetually kept a secret, so it’s something of a black box as to how things played out. There are three spots on each ballot, with five points for first, three for second, and one for third place.

Others who received votes, according to the team announcement, listed alphabetically by last name: Hanser Alberto, José Iglesias, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Renato Núñez, Rio Ruiz, Tanner Scott, Pedro Severino, and César Valdez. That’s a lot of variety for a voting process that only generates three names per ballot. Some of these choices are more indicative of an attempt to apply modern, objective metrics for determining player value than others. All were good stories at some point or another in the season.

Santander stands atop the Baseball Reference WAR leaderboard for the 2020 Orioles even after several weeks on the shelf, with 1.5 WAR. He leads the team with a .575 slugging percentage and still leads in RBI as well even with as long as he’s been on the injured list. I’m sure I’m not the only Orioles fan looking forward to seeing if he can carry that forward into 2021.

Iglesias leads the Orioles in Fangraphs WAR, with 1.4. Iglesias has also been limited to 37 games, and had to be the DH in many of the games he did play, which didn’t stop him from batting a peculiar and kind of amazing .373/.401/.530. Is he going to do that over 162 games next season? Of course not. But that’s not what the vote is about.

If Camden Chat was deemed media enough to vote, I think Santander and Iglesias would have been my 1-2, followed by Mountcastle. That Mountcastle was able to come up immediately and keep doing what he’s been doing all the way up through the minors is one of the more interesting things about the 2020 Orioles.

Of course, it’s only been 32 games, but a rookie coming up and batting .325/.378/.500 is fascinating. Doubly so since one of Mountcastle’s “things” was that he didn’t walk enough, and he’s walked 10 times so far. That’s not a rate that will lead the league, but it shows some improvement. Whether the .386 BABIP is sustainable over 162 games is, like with Iglesias and his .414 BABIP, a concern for 2021.

The 2019 MVO winner was Trey Mancini, an easy choice based on last year’s performance. He was not able to defend his title due to his cancer diagnosis and treatment. I hope he’s well enough to compete again for the 2021 MVO crown.

What do you think about this outcome? Who would have been in your top 3, and why? Let us know in the comments below.