Anyone who watched the 2022 Orioles season knows there was no question who the best player was on the team. It’s Adley Rutschman, far and away. His arrival coincided with the team’s ascent up the standings. He did well with the eye test and he did well with modern metrics like WAR, in which he led the team. There was only one choice for Most Valuable Oriole, and that’s who it was. The team announced Rutschman as the winner on Monday morning. He will be honored for the accomplishment prior to tonight’s game.
MVO voting is open to “members of the local media who cover the team on a regular basis,” according to the team’s press release. Camden Chat is not deemed media enough for this voting. Balloting is done with a 5-3-1 points system. The player with the most points is the winner.
Other players who received votes suggest that at least one and possibly more members of the voting pool are wildly out of touch with the reality that the rest of us are experiencing. The team listed these players as “also receiving votes”: Félix Bautista, Austin Hays, Jordan Lyles, Jorge Mateo, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Rougned Odor, and Anthony Santander.
How anyone whose job involves watching the Orioles for a living could come away feeling like any of Hays, Lyles, Mountcastle, or Odor was one of the three most valuable players on the team is simply beyond me. Given that the press release did not announce Rutschman as a unanimous winner (last year’s release announcing Cedric Mullins’s win did), it seems that at least one voter didn’t even put him in the #1 spot. Sheesh.
Let’s not dwell on the puzzling inclusions. The team does not announce who voted, or a breakdown of votes beyond who was named on the ballot. The voters remain anonymous unless they out themselves.
Rutschman becomes the third-ever rookie to win the award, which has been running yearly since the franchise’s arrival in Baltimore. The previous two rookie winners were Gregg Olson in 1989, and Rodrigo López in 2002. In addition, Rutschman is the third catcher to win MVO voting, joining Gus Triandos from way back in 1958, and Chris Hoiles in 1993.
The team’s release highlighted these accomplishments by Rutschman:
Rutschman enters play today slashing .254/.361/.448 (100-for-393) with 35 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 70 runs scored, 42 RBI, 63 walks, 176 total bases, and an .809 OPS in 111 games. His 35 doubles are the most by an Orioles rookie in a single season in franchise history (since 1954), surpassing the mark of 32 set by Orioles Legend and Hall of Famer CAL RIPKEN, JR. in 1982. Rutschman’s 35 doubles are also the most in a single season by a primary O’s catcher, ahead of JAVY LÓPEZ with 33 in 2004. He is the second O’s rookie with at least 10 home runs and 30 doubles in a season, along with Ripken. His 63 walks are currently the fourth-most by an Orioles rookie, trailing CURT BLEFARY (88, 1965), RON HANSEN (69, 1960), and JIM GENTILE (68, 1960); Blefary, Hansen, and Gentile each appeared in at least 138 games.
Rutschman leads the Orioles and Major League Baseball (MLB) rookies in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) with 5.1, which ranks ninth among all American League (AL) hitters. That is currently the third-best fWAR by a rookie catcher in MLB history, trailing only Los Angeles-NL’s Mike Piazza (7.4, 1993) and Boston’s Carlton Fisk (6.6, 1972), and the second-best by an O’s rookie in franchise history, trailing BOBBY GRICH (5.4, 1972). Rutschman also leads the Orioles in doubles and walks, ranks third in runs scored, fifth in extra-base hits (49), and sixth in total bases. Among Orioles batters with at least 400 plate appearances, he leads the team in on-base percentage and OPS and ranks second in slugging percentage.
Rutschman leads AL rookies in doubles, ranks second in walks, third in extra-base hits, fifth in runs scored, sixth in home runs, seventh in total bases, tied for seventh in hits, and eighth in RBI. Among AL rookies with at least 400 plate appearances, he ranks second in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS.
He’s pretty good!
The two most recent MVO winners remain on the team. Mullins won last year, with Santander winning in the shortened 2020 season even while playing in only 37 of the games.
Trey Mancini’s 2019 win, Adam Jones’s 2018 award, and Jonathan Schoop’s 2017 victory round out the last five years. That’s a nice list of Orioles to be on. I hope Rutschman is great enough to win again next year but also that several other Orioles are great enough to make it an interesting race.