When it comes to facing left-handed pitchers, O’s center fielder Cedric Mullins, no longer a switch-hitter, has had success in the past batting left-on-left.
But the hits were not coming to him very often against lefty pitchers last year, when he hit .209/.265/.313/.578 against left-handers. That was very different from his solid numbers of 2021, when he produced a .277 batting average and .788 OPS left-on-left.
So Mullins’ winter focus was on getting back to stats like those in this 2023 season.
“Just really kind of dug deep into how some of my at-bats went last year,” he said this week at Globe Life Field. “Kind of getting a sense of what guys were trying to do to me and kind of make adjustments from there. Tried to simulate as much as I possibly could (this winter).”
The deep dive included a closer look at how those southpaws were getting him out.
“Just how they were attacking me in the zone," Mullins said. "Whether or not I was being aggressive with pitches in the zone, whether or not I was swinging at strikes and taking balls. Things like that. The rest of it kind of it just took care of itself. Put the ball in play and get results.”
He is surely doing that.
He has begun the new season 4-for-6 against lefties with a double, homer and six of his eight RBIs. Through the six-game sample, he is batting .667 with an OPS of 2.048 against southpaws.
“Those are definitely the results I have been looking for,” he said. “And to see it immediately, it is something that can be maintained throughout this year and beyond. It is something I feel very confident about now going into this season. Just a matter of continuing it."
The Orioles stole five bases in each of their first two games this year but have just one steal in the last four games. Still, as a club, their 11 stolen bases through Wednesday’s games led the major leagues.
Stealing five in a game is very rare. In fact, it has happened just 22 times in O’s club history, dating to 1954. From 2012 through the 2022 season – more than 1,700 games – the Orioles stole five in a game just twice. They did it two out of two to start this year.
Mullins said he can foresee more five-stolen-base days in this team’s future.
“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “You know, just in terms of our all-around play, I think we can do a lot of things in a lot of different ways to win games. Stealing bases is part of that and leads to wins. And with guys we have coming up behind us, they will be knocking us in. Our pitching, I have a lot of confidence in them and their track record too.”
Through six games Mullins is batting .250/.357/.542/.899 with two homers and eight RBIs to go with four steals. His OPS was .721 last year, producing an OPS+ of 104. Right now he has an OPS+ of 149.
Big day and night on the farm: The Orioles' No. 1-ranked farm system played like it on Thursday, even with High-A Aberdeen rained out of its home opener at Ripken Stadium.
Double-A Bowie blanked Hartford on the road 8-0 in its season opener. Right-hander Justin Armbruester pitched five scoreless innings for the win, and righty Chayce McDermott threw four no-hit innings with six strikeouts for a save. Heston Kjerstad hit a solo homer with two RBIs and three runs scored.
Low Single-A Delmarva beat Salem on the road 11-7. Samuel Basallo, the Shorebirds' 18-year-old catcher, playing his first game for a full-season affiliate, went 3-for-5 with a long solo homer to right-center. Elio Prado had three hits including a two-run homer. Trendon Craig added a two-run double and shortstop Jackson Holliday went 1-for-4. He had a double when the Shorebirds scored four runs in the first inning.
Triple-A Norfolk improved to 5-1 with a 3-0 shutout of Gwinnett as right-hander Ryan Watson and righty Chris Vallimont teamed on a two-hitter with seven strikeouts. Watson went the first five innings for the win and Vallimont the last four for a save.
Shortstop Joey Ortiz went 2-for-4 and produced singles with exit velocities of 103.3 mph and 108.5.
Four batters recorded at least two hits in the afternoon game for the Tides as Connor Norby, Ortiz, Hudson Haskin and Lewin Díaz had two hits. The four multi-hit performances are the most the Tides have had in a single game this season. Norby and Ryan O'Hearn have hit safely in each game this year.
Baumler's surgery: Right-handed pitching prospect Carter Baumler, an O's 2020 draft pick, will open this season on the 60-day injured list following offseason surgery on his right shoulder. Baumler had Tommy John surgery in the fall of 2020. He is the O's No. 22 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com, but has thrown just 11 2/3 pro innings to this point.
A few O's international prospects, to include Braylin Tavera, Maikol Hernández and Leandro Arias are beginning their seasons playing in Florida at extended spring training. Luis Almeyda, the top signee in the O's 2023 international class, is expected to make his pro debut this summer in the Dominican Summer League.
Infielder Cadyn Grenier, who went 3-for-3 in one game this season for Triple-A Norfolk, has retired from baseball. The Orioles took him with the 37th overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Oregon State, and he has played in 367 games on the O's farm.
O's opener is today: It's going to be an exciting day in downtown Baltimore today with the O's home opener against the New York Yankees. After the game, I'll host a postgame radio show on WBAL.
Click here to review my story from last week about what is new this year at the ballpark.