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Friday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles earned some end-of-season honors

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Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle were honored by their fellow players for their standout 2021 performances, though the O’s were shut out of Gold Glove nominations.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

As miserable as the 2021 season was for the Orioles as a team, it’s worth remembering that there were a few individual standouts who made the club eminently more watchable.

Ryan Mountcastle, in his first full year in the majors, lived up to every bit of offensive potential he’d shown in the minor leagues and then some. Mountcastle shook off a slow first month of the season to develop as a middle-of-the-order threat for the Orioles, bashing a team-leading 33 home runs — tops among all MLB rookies — and 89 RBIs while posting a .796 OPS.

Trey Mancini, meanwhile, was the most incredible comeback story in baseball this year, winning his battle with Stage 3 colon cancer that cost him the 2020 season and not missing a beat in his return to baseball. Mancini played 147 games, proving a productive player on the field and a respected leader in the clubhouse.

Their contributions did not go unnoticed by their fellow major leaguers. Yesterday, the duo was honored by the Major League Baseball Players Association in their Players’ Choice Awards. Mountcastle was named 2021 AL Outstanding Rookie and Mancini the AL Comeback Player of the Year. Congratulations to both on the well-deserved honors.

In other awards news, the Rawlings Gold Glove candidates were announced yesterday, and the Orioles were shut out. That’s not a surprise at eight of the nine positions, where the O’s had no worthy candidates. But Cedric Mullins — speaking of individual standouts — was somewhat surprisingly excluded from the group of three finalists in center field, which consisted of the Royals’ Michael A. Taylor, the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier, and Myles Straw, who played for both Houston and Cleveland.

To my untrained eye, Mullins played a reliable and sometimes dazzling center field this year (his home run-robbing catch against the Yankees was one for the ages). But advanced defensive metrics weren’t as kind, particularly on FanGraphs, which tagged Mullins with negative marks in both Defensive Runs Saved (-1) and Ultimate Zone Rating (-5.7). Taylor, Kiermaier, and Straw posted a DRS of 19, 13, and 5, respectively. By Statcast’s Outs Above Average, Mullins’ mark of 11 ranked fourth, again behind Taylor (15), Straw (13), and Kiermaier (12). So it’s justifiable that Mullins didn’t crack the top three. But I certainly enjoyed watching him play.

Links

Mancini, Mountcastle and Belanger honored by MLBPA (updated) - School of Roch
It wasn’t just current Orioles who got some recognition from the MLBPA yesterday. Late O’s great Mark Belanger was also honored with the Curt Flood Award for his tireless work for the union during the 1980s and ‘90s.

Orioles face tough decisions on 40-man roster additions - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff runs through a number of candidates to be added to the Orioles’ 40-man roster this winter. I’ve got them protecting Bradish, Smith, Vavra, Neustrom, and DL Hall. What say you?

A look at Baseball America’s O’s top 10 list - Steve Melewski
Melewski offers his thoughts on the top 10 Orioles prospects as ranked by BA. In summary: they are all quite good.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! One member of the 2021 Orioles has a birthday today: right-hander Shaun Anderson, who turns 27. The O’s were the second of three teams Anderson pitched for this year; he was bombed for 15 runs in 10 innings before moving on. Former Orioles born on this day include lefty Dana Eveland (38), outfielder Karim Garcia (46), infielder Frank Baker (75), and righty Pete Richert (82), a key reliever on the 1970 champion Orioles.

On this day in 2013, the Orioles cleaned up in the AL Gold Glove Awards, with shortstop J.J. Hardy, third baseman Manny Machado, and center fielder Adam Jones taking home the honors at their respective positions. It was Jones’ third career Gold Glove, Hardy’s second, and Machado’s first. Ah, remember when the Orioles used to have a defense to be proud of? Those were the days.

And on this day in 2016, O’s closer Zack Britton won the Mariano Rivera Award, given to the best relief pitcher in the American League. It capped an extraordinary season in which Britton went a perfect 47-for-47 in save chances and gave up only four earned runs all season (0.54 ERA), ultimately finishing fourth in the Cy Young vote. Just don’t ask what happened in the Wild Card Game.