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Friday Bird Droppings: Where Cedric Mullins was the AL’s ninth-most valuable player

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A guy who entered the season with no real track record of success finished it in the top 10 of the AL MVP voting. Heck of a showing from the Birds’ breakout star.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Not sure if you’re aware of this, but...Cedric Mullins is really, really good, you guys.

Those in Birdland have already heaped mounds of praise on the Orioles’ splendid center fielder after his breakout 2021 season. His efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the national media, either. In the American League Most Valuable Player voting results announced last night — in which Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani was the unanimous winner — Mullins finished in ninth place, an extraordinary showing for a player saddled with such an abysmal team.

Of the 30 ballots cast, Mullins received a top-10 vote on all but three. He placed as high as fourth on one ballot, while most voters penciled him in eighth or ninth. Mullins’ ninth-place MVP finish was the best showing for an Oriole since Manny Machado finished fifth in 2016. Mullins is the first Oriole to get any MVP votes at all since 2017, when Jonathan Schoop finished 12th.

Cedric certainly deserved every vote he got. In a lost year for the Orioles, Mullins was a daily highlight reel, delivering unexpectedly stupendous numbers at the plate — including the Orioles’ first-ever 30-homer, 30-steal season — while flashing defensive wizardry in center field. And he did it all just two years removed from a season so horrible that he was demoted two levels. Now the 27-year-old has positioned himself as a potential cornerstone of a future contending club in Baltimore. Well done, Cedric!

Links

Taking a last look at possible protections in Rule 5 draft - School of Roch
Today’s the day for the Orioles to add players to their 40-man roster to protect them from getting snatched away in the Rule 5 draft. Roch Kubatko joins the general consensus that there are four sure bets to be protected while other names could go either way.

Can new hitting coaches help O’s lagging OBP stats? - Steve Melewski
How many consecutive years now have we been talking about the Orioles’ struggles with OBP? Even in their playoff seasons, the O’s weren’t particularly good at it. Good luck to the new duo of hitting coaches in trying to turn around this decades-long problem.

Looking at possible backup catchers for Orioles' Rutschman - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff wonders if Manny Pina’s two-year, $8 million contract with Atlanta might take the Orioles out of the market of signing a decent veteran catcher. He’s probably not wrong, which is kind of a sad commentary on the current state of the Birds’ finances.

Connolly: Orioles need starting pitching, but expect most free-agent options to pass by – The Athletic
The market has been set for free agent starting pitchers, too, and the expensive deals signed by Eduardo Rodriguez and Noah Syndergaard make it all the more likely the O’s will be shopping in the dustbin again. Get ready for Matt Harvey, Part Deux.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Three former Orioles were born on this day: 2020 catcher Bryan Holaday (34), two-game 1988 right-hander Dickie Noles (65), and 1966-68 catcher Larry Haney (79).

On this day in 1963, the Orioles hired Hank Bauer as their new manager, replacing Billy Hitchcock, hoping to take the fast-rising team to the next level. I’d say it worked. The O’s won 94 or more games in each of Bauer’s first three years as manager, including their first championship in franchise history in 1966.