We still have 46 games remaining in the regular season and I’m jumping the gun with the debate over Most Valuable Oriole, but why not? And it’s not really a debate over the winner, though rookie Trey Mancini is doing his best to heat it up.
It can’t be anyone else at this point except Jonathan Schoop. He’d have to really fall apart to avoid taking all of the first place votes.
Schoop began last night batting .298/.347/.541 with 29 doubles, 25 home runs and 82 RBIs in 113 games, and his two-run double in the fifth inning gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead in Oakland. He actually could garner Most Valuable Player votes in the American League.
Did anyone make that prediction back in March?
I’m more interested in collecting your thoughts on the second- and third-place finishers if the season ended today. And whether you believe that Schoop isn’t the slam dunk choice.
Mancini has to crack the top three as a rookie who didn’t know whether he’d break camp with the team back in March. It’s quite a story.
Mancini began last night batting .296/.344/.530 with 19 doubles, two triples, 20 home runs and 60 RBIs in 100 games. His 20 home runs are the most by an Orioles rookie since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1982.
Mychal Givens isn’t the closer or primary setup man, but he’s got numbers that are worthy of second or third place.
Givens went into last night’s game with a 7-1 record, 2.44 ERA and 0.976 WHIP in 49 appearances. He posted a 0.71 ERA in June and a 0.73 ERA in July, with two runs allowed, three walks and 31 strikeouts in 25 innings.
Following starter Ubaldo Jiménez last night, Givens tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings and lowered his ERA to 2.37.
An argument also can be made for Brad Brach, who was 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA, 16 saves and an 0.952 WHIP in 48 games before allowing two runs (one earned) last night in the eighth inning in a 5-4 loss. He took on a heavier load while Zach Britton was on the disabled list. But Givens rates ahead of him.
Dylan Bundy was the only dependable starter through most of the first half and he’s 11-8 with a 4.15 ERA in 22 games. He’s blown past last year’s innings total with 134 1/3 and he’s still going strong. He may get some votes. And that’s a significant development for a former first-round pick whose career was stalled due to injuries and Tommy John surgery and who’s engaged in his first full season in the rotation.
Joey Rickard still has great hair. Has to count for something, right?
Left-hander Richard Bleier won’t get any votes, but he’s been a huge contributor with a 1.45 ERA in 34 games. He’s taken over T.J. McFarland’s old role, but with better results.
(McFarland, by the way, picked up his first major league hit on Aug. 1 with an infield single for the Diamondbacks. But I digress ...)
Orioles manager Buck Showalter wonders why he’s asked about the possibility of Bleier transitioning into a starting pitcher. I may have contributed to it, but the rotation was in the midst of a particularly brutal stretch and Bleier’s ERA was plummeting.
Desperate times called for it.
“You think about all those things because of a need and he’s also serving a big need out of our bullpen,” Showalter said. “There’s a long discussion about that as far as the way you look at starters and relievers and the repertoire and what they do and how would they be two or three times around the order, but he’s pitched well enough in a long role to make you consider those things.
“Believe me, we’re looking at every possibility.”
Ben Werthan, the Orioles advance scout, offered a strong recommendation of Bleier in spring training before the Feb. 21 trade that sent a player to be named later or cash to the Yankees.
“He was a guy who brought (Bleier) up in the spring when he was out there,” Showalter said. “I’ve got to give him a lot of credit because Ben said we should really take a deep look on this guy and fortunately we did.”
Going back to the MVO debate, Manny Machado had no shot at the top three until finally heating up. He began last night batting .315/.358/.472 in the second half and he added two more hits in the loss. He could sway some voters if he continues down this path.
So give me your top three. Do you consider Tim Beckham as a late entry?