Orioles wide receiver Adley Rutschman is at the heart of the vote for American League Rookie of the Year. Awaiting the announcement next month, he has become the recipient of a local honor given annually by media covering the team.
Rutschman was voted Most Valuable Oriole, the third rookie since the award’s inception in 1954, joining pitchers Gregg Olson in 1989 and Rodrigo López in 2002. He is only the third catcher to be named MVO, with Gus Triandos in 1958 and Chris Hoiles in 1993.
The Orioles are 66-53 since Rutschman’s promotion May 21 as baseball’s No. 1 prospect. And it is not a hazard.
There is a lot of data to back it up.
The first overall selection of the 2019 draft reduced .251/.356/.444 in 110 games, with 34 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 42 RBIs, 61 walks and 84 strikeouts. Baseball-Reference.com rates it a WAR 5.0.
The 35 doubles is a franchise record for a catcher, surpassing Javy López’s 33 in 2004. He also broke the rookie record that Cal Ripken Jr. had held since 1982.
Ripken and Rutschman are the only Orioles rookies with at least 10 homers and 30 doubles in a season.
Rutschman’s work behind the plate is also praised. His pitch-blocking skills, his ability to call a play and direct pitchers through it. His energy level and leadership at 24.
His 17 defensive points saved lead the Orioles and are second by a receiver in the majors, according to Sports Information Solutions.
Rutschman leads the club and major league rookies in FanGraph.com’s fWAR at 5.1, who is also ninth among AL hitters. It is the third-best fWAR by a rookie rookie in major league history behind Mike Piazza’s 7.4 in 1993 and Carlton Fisk’s 6.6 in 1972), and the second-best by a rookie in the Orioles after Bobby Grich’s 5.4 in 1972.
The former Oregon State star leads the Orioles in doubles and on walks, ranking third in runs scored, fifth in added hits and sixth in total bases. Among Orioles batters with at least 400 plate appearances, he ranks first in on-base percentage and OPS and second in slugging percentage.
There is more.
Rutschman’s 13 homers are the second-most by an Orioles rookie catcher in history behind Dan Graham’s 15 in 1980 and are second-most by a hard-hitting rookie catcher in major league history behind Mitch’s 14 Meluskey with the Astros in 2000.
Manager Brandon Hyde said over the weekend he realized the Orioles had turned a corner when Rutschman arrived. That they could make a playoff run and end a five-year streak of losing records.
The Orioles have 82 wins, 30 more than in 2021.
The kid more than lived up to the hype. And there’s a lot more to come.
“We started playing better baseball, picking up better bats, winning more series,” Hyde said in New York. “We had winning months of playing good baseball, pitching well. I don’t know if there was a moment, but once Adley came on we started playing better.
“To be able to put him in the top part of the line-up, to be able to catch up the majority of games. The way he and Robby (Chirinos) handled our pitching team seemed incredible to me. For the guy behind the plate to control the game, and the bats he takes too. He got a bunch of big hits late in the game. It’s been a huge difference for our team.
Voting is done on a 5-3-1 basis. Felix Bautista, Austin Hays, Jordan Lyles, Jorge Mateo, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, Rougned Odor and Anthony Santander also received votes.
Rutschman will be honored on the court, weather permitting, ahead of tonight’s series opener against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards.