Winning more games attracts more attention, and the Orioles are finding out during awards season.
The recognition is spreading like cold germs.
The team will learn tonight whether Silver Sluggers are coming to catcher Adley Rutschman, outfielder Anthony Santander and infielder Gunnar Henderson, who’s nominated in the utility category. The winners will be revealed at 6 p.m. on MLB Network.
Rutschman and Santander were finalists last year but didn’t get the hardware. The Blue Jays’ Alejandro Kirk was the recipient among AL catchers, and the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, the Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez and the Angels’ Mike Trout were chosen as outfielders.
The other catchers tonight are the Royals' Salvador Pérez and the Mariners' Cal Raleigh. The outfielders with Santander are Judge, Rodríguez, the Rays' Randy Arozarena, the Rangers' Adolis García, the White Sox's Luis Robert Jr. and the Astros' Kyle Tucker.
Three outfielders are chosen, with no distinction made for exact position.
Henderson is competing against the Angels' Brandon Drury, the Rays' Isaac Paredes and the Blue Jays' Whit Merrifield, an All-Star whose mutual option for 2014 was declined last week by both sides.
That’s a nice top third of the Orioles’ lineup with Henderson, Rutschman and Santander.
Winners are determined by managers and coaches who vote for players at each position in their respective leagues. Votes are based on a combination of offensive statistics including OPS, OPS+, home runs, RBIs, average, total bases and runs, as well as the managers’ and coaches’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value.
Rutschman has more hits, doubles and walks, and a higher average, on-base percentage and OPS than the other finalists. Jonah Heim, the AL’s starting catcher in the All-Star Game, leads all catchers in RBIs but is excluded from the competition.
Cedric Mullins is the most recent Orioles’ recipient in 2021 following his 30/30 season. Outfielder Mark Trumbo won a Silver Slugger in 2016.
The last multiple winners were first baseman Chris Davis, shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielder Adam Jones in 2013.
There have been some gaps over the years. The Orioles didn’t have a winner prior to that trio since designated hitter Aubrey Huff in 2008. First baseman Rafael Palmeiro received one in 1998, and the Orioles were shut out until shortstop Miguel Tejada and third baseman Melvin Mora in 2004.
Rutschman could join Mickey Tettleton in 1989 as the only catchers in club history.
The award has been distributed every year since 1980. Shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. and first baseman Eddie Murray, future Hall of Famers, were the first Orioles to receive it in 1983. They were repeat winners the following year.
Ripken owns eight Silver Sluggers.
The Baseball Writers' Association of America award winners will be announced next week, starting with Rookie of the Year on Monday and followed each night by Manager of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Player.
Reliever Gregg Olson is the last Orioles' Rookie of the Year in 1989. Buck Showalter is the last Manager of the Year in 2014. Steve Stone is the last Cy Young Award winner in 1980. And Cal Ripken Jr. is the last MVP in 1991, in the final season at Memorial Stadium.
Henderson seems a shoo-in to end the rookie drought, and Hyde should do the same with managers. Hyde is a two-time Sporting News AL Manager of the Year.