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Tuesday Bird Droppings: The Orioles have two BBWAA award finalists

Adley Rutschman and Brandon Hyde are among the AL’s top three vote-getters for Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year, respectively.

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San Diego Padres v Baltimore Orioles
Things went quite well for these two in 2022.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Just two days after the end of the 2022 season, the Orioles are already front and center in MLB’s offseason news. Last night the league revealed the top three vote-getters for each of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s four major offseason awards — Most Valuable Player, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year — and the O’s were well represented in the latter two, with Adley Rutschman and Brandon Hyde named finalists in their categories.

Neither honor is a surprise to anyone who watched the Orioles all season. Rutschman, from the moment he was called up to the majors May 21, was every bit the franchise-changing player the Orioles hoped he’d be. The O’s, who had a 16-24 record before Rutschman’s arrival, went 67-55 the rest of the way, due in no small part to his hitting, his defense, his superb work with the pitching staff, and his overall leadership as a 24-year-old rookie. Rutschman was voted by local media as Most Valuable Oriole, leading the Orioles in Wins Above Replacement despite missing the first month and a half of the season recovering from a spring training injury.

And Hyde, who had begun his O’s career with three straight losing seasons — including two years of 108+ losses — finally showed what he could do once he had some better talent to work with. He capably guided a club that became the most surprising success story in baseball, defying pessimistic preseason expectations by finishing with a winning record and coming within three games of a playoff spot. Among other things, Hyde’s deft handling of a bullpen full of waiver claims and castoffs helped them become one of the most impressive groups in the majors.

This marks the first time the Orioles have had a pair of top-three finishers in the BBWAA awards in the same season since 2002, when Rodrigo Lopez and Jorge Julio placed second and third in the AL Rookie of the Year vote. If Rutschman and Hyde both end up winning, it’d be the first time since 1989 that two Orioles won BBWAA awards in the same year. It was the same two categories that season: Rookie of the Year (Gregg Olson) and Manager of the Year (Frank Robinson).

It seems unlikely, though, that both will win. Rutschman in particular probably won’t defeat Julio Rodriguez, the Mariners’ electric young outfielder who — unlike Adley — had the benefit of a full season to flash his skills. Rodriguez topped Rutschman in WAR, and the fact that his M’s made the postseason while Adley’s Orioles missed out only strengthens his case. Rutschman figures to finish second, ahead of the other finalist, Guardians outfielder (and Rutschman’s former Oregon State teammate) Steven Kwan.

Hyde, just like Rutschman, is pitted against a Mariner (Scott Servais) and a Guardian (Terry Francona). If the voting is based on which manager’s team most exceeded expectations, the O’s skipper has an excellent chance to win, as the Orioles improved by a whopping 31 games from 2021, while the Guardians improved by 12 and the M’s had an identical record to last year. But Hyde’s case might be hurt by the fact that the other two skippers guided their teams to the playoffs, in Servais’s case snapping a 21-year postseason drought for the Mariners.

We’ll find out next week whether Rutschman or Hyde will end up winning. Whatever the case, it was a season to be proud of for the two of them and their ballclub.


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Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Former Orioles born on this date include 2000 two-gamer Carlos Casimiro (46) and the late outfielders Dwight Smith Sr. (b. 1963, d. 2022) and Wally Westlake (b. 1920, d. 2019).

Two Orioles legends earned well-deserved accolades on this date in history. In 1966, Frank Robinson was unanimously voted the American League Most Valuable Player after winning the Triple Crown and leading the O’s to their first championship in his debut season with the club. He became the first player ever to win MVP in both leagues (he’d previously won in the NL for the Reds in 1961). In addition to leading the AL in average (.316), homers (49), and RBIs (122), Robinson also led in OBP (.410), SLG (.637), and total bases (367). So, yeah, it was an easy choice. The second- and third-place finishers in the MVP vote were also Orioles: Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell.

And on this date in 1991, Cal Ripken Jr. won his second AL MVP award. Again, it was an easy choice, despite the O’s finishing in a distant sixth place that year. Ripken’s WAR was an unheard-of 11.5, which was (and still is) the highest single-season mark in Orioles history, and the best in the majors that year by a significant margin. Cal’s offensive numbers that year were the pinnacle of his career — his 34 homers, 114 RBIs, .323 average, and .940 OPS were personal bests for a full season — and he also won his first Gold Glove award at shortstop.