2020 has been a year, although not over yet, that will go down in history for many things. In baseball, that is no different. To many people’s surprise, the Orioles are atop the A.L. and are continuing to win baseball games.
Not surprisingly, the big three for the Baltimore Orioles have thrived this season. Production from Rio Ruiz, Anthony Santander and Hanser Alberto have combined to bring the O’s to 11-8.
A Rule 5 pick, Anthony Santander caught the eye and heart of former Orioles skipper Buck Showalter in 2016. Now in 2020 at 25 years of age, the switch-hitting Santander has found his stride.
Currently leading the A.L. in RBI at 20, Santander has proven clutch for the Orioles. In 78 at-bats so far, he is hitting .250, with a more impressive .848 OPS and five home runs.
During the Orioles’ last seven games, in which they won six of those games, No. 25 had 10 hits in 31 at-bats, which included four long balls and 16 RBI. That is how you help your team win.
Maybe the least surprising one on this list is batting master, Hanser Alberto. Coming off a 2019 compaign where he led the A.L. in batting average against LHP, Alberto was poised to get even better. The move to pick Alberto up off waivers after the 2018 season was one of the better moves the Orioles have made in recent years.
Alberto sits at a beautiful .337 batting average with 10 RBI and a .898 OPS. Another case of people getting on base in front of him and another case of Alberto being able to be productive with those runners on.
Even better, Alberto is also among the top of the A.L. with 10 doubles and 44 total bases. In a shortened season, don’t be surprised to see Alberto finish a good bit over .800 OPS.
Making a statement as the Orioles next star third baseman is Rio Ruiz, with his fantastic mullet. The 6-foot-1 Ruiz was a draft pick loved by Mike Elias during his time in Houston. The Astros drafted Ruiz in the 2012 draft, and then he made his way to Baltimore after being claimed off waivers in December of 2018.
Ruiz showed immediate improvements in 2020, after being sent to a private hitting instructor during the offseason. Starting the season with three home runs in his first four at-bats, Ruiz showed that the hitting instructor worked.
Another Orioles batter with solid numbers, Ruiz sits at a .255 batting average, hitting in 11 with five home runs. The Orioles third baseman is also another on a long list of hitters with an above .800 OPS, currently at .896.
Defensively, Ruiz has been worth the price of admission. When he was on the injured list, there was an obvious hole at the hot corner. Including maybe the play of 2020, the mullet has wowed all baseball fans, finally giving the Orioles some deserved recognition.
A major theme, all of these three players are reaching their prime age and are under team control for a good amount of time.
This young core for the Baltimore Orioles, along with a few other pieces, are showing the league they are better than the team expected to “win less than 10 games.”