This preseason I drew the unfortunate short-straw to write the Orioles season preview. I got lambasted for saying the O’s were putting up one of, if not THE worst, rosters in franchise history. So far, it’s been as much of a disaster as expected, with their current 24-54 record yielding the worst winning percentage (.308) since the 1910 St. Louis Browns.
Despite their frustration and failures, Baltimore actually has an All Star worthy player in outfielder Cedric Mullins.
The 26-year-old Mullins is in his first full, normal MLB season. He played in 48 games in last year’s COVID shortened season, and this year has already suited-up in 76 games. Across 330 plate appearances, he is hitting .311/.380/.536 for a WRC+ of 151. He also has 12 stolen bases.
Not only is Mullins hitting for average, but he’s blasted 13 home runs, 21 doubles and three triples. He nearly doubled his walk rate from 5.2 percent last year to 9.1 percent this year, and he cut his strikeout rate from striking out a quarter of his plate appearances to under 20 percent. He also has stolen a dozen bases.
Different baseball fans have different philosophies on who ought to earn their way to an All Star Game, but regardless of your perspective, the Orioles will have a player in Denver for the mid-summer classic as it’s been the standard and the rules for a long time.
Mullins 3.2 fWAR is more than double the next-best position player on the Orioles (Freddy Galvis is a distant second, with 1.5 wins above replacement, and 98 wRC+.
When he’s making contact with the baseball, Mullins is hitting the ball hard ⅓ of the time, which is significantly higher than what he’s done earlier in his career. The lefty is also hitting the ball where the defenders aren’t playing, as he’s generating a .356 BABIP. While that’s not likely to be sustainable, the raw numbers for the first part of the year will remain.
It’s also worth mentioning that he made the decision to give up on switch-hitting to bat left handed every time at the dish. So far, it’s yielded good results, including a strong .313/.377/.510 slash line and four home runs against southpaw pitchers.
Fans are appreciating Mullins across the game, as he’s in contention to get enough All Star game votes to start in the outfield. Regardless of whether or not he earns a spot at one of the starting three AL outfielders, he’s likely to make it his first All Star Game.