The Comeback & The Rookie

Baseball: a sport full of fierce competition, edge-of-the-seat heroics and unbelievable feats. From the feel good story, to the star so big they shine before they arrive.

Baseball always has a grand topic of argument and discussion to debate. As award season rolls around, it’s time for arguments to be settled, disputed and for players to have bragging rights until next season comes around.

For the Orioles, it’s been a tough few years, with fans waiting to see the grand rebuild start taking shape. From injuries, to a lost minor league season, the Orioles are a step behind their projection, but this offseason is proving that key pieces are where we need to be in our growth.

Trey Mancini, one of the most beloved Orioles, was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer before the 2020 shortened season. Tasked with going through chemotherapy treatments and the toll it would take on his body, Mancini would take the 2020 season off vowing to return in 2021.

Nobody knew what to expect when Mancini returned ready for spring training 2021, as he pushed to be ready for Opening Day. Would his body be ready? Would he be in baseball shape? These questions arouse, as we waited for our beloved “Boom Boom” to return.

When the Orioles began the season against Boston, Mancini was sure enough in the starting lineup. The Birds would end up winning the game 3-0, but the biggest stat would be Mancini going 1-for-3 with a walk. Mancini cleared the biggest hurdle, and now it was time to see where it would lead. With his body still adjusting from chemo, his stamina would be something to watch.

Mancini would bat .255 with 14 home runs across the first half of the season. He looked strong at the plate, and his plate discipline got better the longer the season went. He would be invited to participate in the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby as a reward for his effort, finishing as the runner-up to Pete Alonso.

Mancini’s story was making its way around baseball, as he would go forth and put up a strong season that would lead to the him earning the 2021 Players Choice Comeback Player of the Year.

Finishing the season batting .255 with 21 home runs and 71 RBI, Mancini tallied 54 extra base hits with a .758 OPS over 147 games, 77 of them played in the field, far exceeding what anyone would of thought or expected.

But Oriole players taking home hardware didn’t end there, as Ryan Mountcastle was awarded 2021 Players Choice A.L. Outstanding Rookie honors.

Mountcastle was given a short stint in the big leagues in 2020, playing in 35 games and batting .333. It was a taste of what we as fans have been hearing about. The hope was that 2021 would be a breakout, and we would have another piece to build around, and Mountcastle would not disappoint.

To start the 2021 season, we were left disappointed with our jaws dragging on the stadium concrete.

The month of April saw Mountcastle bat just .198, as he struck out 30 times across 91 at-bats with only 18 hits. Needless to say, our young rookie phenom seemed to have regressed.

May rolled around, and it started to click. Mountcastle woke up, batting .283 for the month and collecting 22 hits across 86 at-bats, with four home runs and 14 RBI. Our rookie was playing up to what we thought.

It was June that stole the show, as Mountcastle took home Rookie of the Month honors and started to show why the Orioles were so high on this young ballplayer. He batted .327 with 9 home runs and 26 RBI across 101 at-bats and announced to the league he had arrived.

Mountcastle would finish the season breaking the Orioles’ rookie home run record with 33; this led all rookies as well. He would bat .255 and knock in 79 runs, as he became a middle of the lineup batter and played strong defense at first base.

There have been a lot of ups and downs for our Birds these past few years, but players like Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle show us that the rebuild is working in a positive direction. With a young nucleus and more to come, these two cornerstones have etched their names into awards that are showing the rewards of our rebuild.

Congratulations to Trey and Ryan! We look forward to many more moments from you both!

What do you think of these honors presented to our guys? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter and our podcast “The Walk-Off” on YouTube and Spotify! And, make sure to use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content to show your Birdland swag!

Like Stephen’s content? Follow him on Twitter, @SrHeckman!

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