The 2020 MLB season was one we have never experienced before, and as fans and players alike, we hope it’s one we never see again. However, baseball was still played, and here at The Baltimore Battery, we have come to give readers an extensive breakdown of the 2020 season. This edition is the position player breakdown.
There was a lot of movement around the Oriole outfield in 2020, so let’s go down the list of the main six that grazed the grass this year.
Anthony Santander: The undisputed Orioles MVP in 2020 was Gold Glove finalist, Anthony Santander. Despite an oblique injury that ended his season early, Santander still made noise in 37 games. Finishing with a slash line of .261/.315/.575 and a .890 OPS had Santander in the MVP discussion at the time of his season’s end.
His 11 home runs and 32 RBI were among the league-lead at that time. Santander also held the league’s longest hitting streak at 18 games. A quickly improving glove in right field was present for Santander, as a handful of miraculous plays earned him his first Gold Glove finalist nod in his young career. At 26, Anthony Santander is not a free agent until 2025.
Final slash line: .261/.315/.575, .890 OPS, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 1.5 WAR
Austin Hays: After appearing in September of 2019 and making a splash, Austin Hays was among the most anticipated players of 2020. With incredible energy and athleticism, Hays saw the brunt of everyday big league play. In 35 games this year, Hays battled some injuries yet still managed a solid .279 average and .722 OPS.
At times, Hays seemed more out of his groove than his stats showed. Lots of streakiness led to solid numbers and exciting series, while also bringing upon some struggles with plate discipline. In the field, Hays was as good as advertised, splitting time in center with this next man while he battled injury.
Final slash line: .279/.328/.393, .722 OPS, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 0.8 WAR
Cedric Mullins: Cedric Mullins was certainly a pleasant surprise in 2020. After struggling much of 2019 and dropping all the way down to Double-A Bowie, Mullins made a strong case to be a part of the Orioles. His league-leading nine bunts for base hits made the Orioles look like small ball masters at times. Seven stolen bases and 38 hits in 48 games landed Mullins a much improved .271 average and a .723 OPS. We hope to see more of Mullins’ speed and finesse in 2021.
Final slash line: .271/.315/.407, .723 OPS, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 0.4 WAR
DJ Stewart: DJ Stewart is a touchy guy to analyze. A 2015 first round pick out of FSU, Stewart has been lack luster to start his career. The beginning of his 2020 season was no different. After starting out 0-for-17, Stewart had not yet recorded a hit but had a plus .300 OBP because of all the walks he drew. He ended the season with 20.
Stewart went on an a late season tear where he hit 7 home runs in between September 5th-14th. He also hit five in four consecutive games which started against Gerrit Cole of the Yankees.
Final slash line: .193/.355/.455, .809 OPS, 7 HR, 15 RBI 0.6 WAR
Ryan Mountcastle: I won’t go too deep into Ryan Mountcastle here, as fellow Battery writer Davis Carbaugh will go in-depth on all the rookies in Part 2 of the 2020 Season Recap. However, I will say that Ryan Mountcastle came onto the scene for the first time against the Blue Jays up in Buffalo, and he never looked back.
A .333 average in 35 games left him just shy of the rookie at-bat limit, giving him a chance to win Rookie of the Year next season in 2021. Even so, he still received one third place vote. The future is very bright for young Lord Mountcastle.
Final slash line: .333/.386/.492 .878 OPS, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 0.5 WAR
Dwight Smith Jr: Dwight Smith Jr. is the last of the regular Oriole outfielders in 2020. After playing in 21 games, it was clear Smith Jr. was not a piece of the Orioles’ future, as he was designated for assignment in late August after posting a .222 average. After clearing waivers, Smith Jr. elected free agency in early November.
Final slash line: .222/.306/.365 .671 OPS, 2 HR, 6 RBI, -0.5 WAR
José Iglesias: Among the newest Orioles in 2020, José Iglesias made a splash in Baltimore following his free agency signing before the season. Playing last in Cincinnati with the Reds, Iglesias was already known for Gold-Glove-caliber defense. His bat, also known to be solid, was much better than Oriole fans could have hoped for.
As injury kept Iglesias’ season to just 39 games, a .373 average fell just short of the batting title due to not enough at-bats to qualify. However, Iglesias’ .956 OPS with 17 doubles is surely something worthy of picking up his $3.5 million option for 2021. In the field, Iglesias was a staple and will surely see the majority of reps at shortstop come 2021.
Final slash line: .373/.400/.556 .956 OPS, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 1.2 WAR
Hanser Alberto: The left-handed pitching killer, Hanser Alberto, broke out in 2019. Leading the league in average against LHP, and, in general, hitting over .300 in 2019, expectations were high come 2020. A very hot start raised expectations, as Alberto hit 11 doubles in the first couple weeks of the season. After that, he only hit four more.
Plate control was a problem for Hanser this season, who seemed at times far too eager with the bat in his hands. Despite this, Alberto still finished the season with a respectable .283 average and .698 OPS, which very well may be a ticket for a trade deal by the start of 2021 or closer to the trade deadline next August.
Final slash line: .283/.306./393 .698 OPS, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 0.5 WAR
Andrew Velazquez: This is a name Oriole fans soon will forget. During a rebuild, some bottom tier players are unavoidable. Andrew Velazquez is simply one of those players. A poor .159 average in 40 games left fans wondering why he was on the field. His only promise is speed, which we all saw cut down by very bad running habits.
Final slash line: .159/.274/.206 .480 OPS, 3 RBI, 0.2 WAR
Chris Davis: Alright, let’s just get him out of the way. $23 million Chris Davis gave Orioles fans 52 more reasons why he should never wear black and orange again. A dismal .115 batting average in those 52 at-bats couldn’t even net him more than one RBI. A season-ending injury in the last month very well could have sealed the envelope of Davis’ career as an Oriole, and we have all off-season to see what happens with that.
Final slash line: .115/.164/.173 .337 OPS, 1 RBI, -1.0 WAR
Renato Núñez: Renato Núñez spent some time at third and first base this season, while also serving as the DH on occasion. In the field, Núñez continued to show us why he is a true DH. At the plate, he was very streaky in 2020 but still managed a respectable .256 average with a .816 OPS and 12 long balls.
Renato shows some real power, which is most valuable to the Orioles as a trade piece this off-season or in the first half of next year. After staying about consistent to 2019 with high power and high strikeouts, Núñez could certainly bring the Orioles a prospect or two in return.
Final slash line: .256./324./475 .791 OPS, 12 HR, 31 RBI, 0.4 WAR
Rio Ruiz: As an Oriole fan, I am still confused on Rio Ruiz. The Orioles main third baseman in 2020, Ruiz showed some amazing improvement with the glove compared to the year prior. Showing himself as a true major league third baseman, Ruiz could be a staple at the hot corner for the Orioles. The issue here is his bat.
Much like last year, Ruiz struggled to get the offense going. Rio started out the season red hot, with three homers and six hits in the first five days of the season. He then quickly cooled off to hit only six more long balls all year. A .222 average showcases his inconsistency, as he ended with a .713 OPS in 54 games played. Come next year, Orioles fans hope his bat catches up with his glove as he continues to work with a private hitting instructor appointed by the Orioles.
Final slash line: .222/.286./427 .713 OPS, 9 HR, 32 RBI, 0.5 WAR
Pat Valaika: Easily one of the bigger surprises this year, Pat Valaika came over to the Orioles off waivers before the season and truly made a difference. Serving as a utility man all over the infield, Patty V showed promise at first base.
A right-handed bat that was lethal against lefties, Valaika cemented himself as an unsung hero in this lineup. In 52 games, Valaika had an average of .277 and 8 home runs. There was a three-day stretch in late August where Pat hit a home run in each of those three games, two of which came in the seventh inning or later.
Final slash line: .277/.315/.475, .791 OPS, 8 HRS,
Pedro Severino: Pedro Severino entered his second season as the Orioles’ primary catcher and made some vast improvements from 2019. At some points the hottest hitter on the squad, Severino finished with a .250 average and .710 OPS. Another streaky hitter, Severino certainly did show struggles at the plate, often times for a stretch of games.
Defensively, Severino is still improving his arm, while his glove definitely can use some work. As we all know, Severino is filling a hole soon to be filled by Adley Rutschman, which leaves his place as an Oriole a little uncertain going into 2021.
Final slash line: .250./322./388 .710 OPS, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 0.7 WAR
Chance Sisco: Another place holder, Chance Sisco served as the backup catcher and sometimes DH. The left-handed bat of Sisco showed the power we have been waiting to see, yet we still have not seen it consistently. A .741 OPS shows that power against a .214 average this year, where Sisco only saw the field in 36 games.
Going forward, I would still like to see Sisco transition to another position or DH. His bat is one that will come around and can be a big part of the lineup, regardless of Adley Rutschman taking over behind the plate in the near future.
Final slash line: .214/.364/.378, .741 OPS, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 0.1 WAR
Bryan Holaday: This catcher saw very limited action with the Orioles; only 20 games. In those 20 games, Holaday was able to drive in four runs, two of which were very memorable. In the first half of the game against the Nationals in August, Holaday hit an RBI single. Later that game, which was played a week later, Holaday had another RBI to win the game. Now a free agent as of October 28, Holaday is a name we will likely not see in an Orioles uniform next season.
Final slash line: .161/.212/.194 .406 OPS, 4, RBI, -0.3 WAR
Be sure to catch all the installments of The Baltimore Battery’s 2020 Season Recap, and let us know what you think about this past season in the comments!
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