Mullins at his best when bunting

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde will post his lineup again this afternoon, with a game expected to be played. In a minor league ballpark in Buffalo.

There’s a first time for everything.

They keep coming in 2020.

Cedric Mullins was supposed to be in center field last night before the Orioles voted not to play. He’s likely to stay there tonight and bat leadoff or last.

He has impressive range in the field and the lineup.

Mullins leads the majors with six bunt hits, four more than the next closest player. The small ball approach has become a big weapon, with Mullins taking advantage of his speed and ability to lay one down.

Hyde is encouraging his players to bunt more, whether for hits or to sacrifice. Andrew Velazquez, a light-hitting utility player who can run, also has been doing it from the bottom of the lineup on days that he leaves the bench.

Mullins-Running-White-Sidebar.jpgMullins needed to expand his offensive game after going 6-for-64 last season and losing his job as the center fielder, and collecting only one hit in his first 13 at-bats this summer before the Orioles optioned him on Aug. 8 to the alternate camp site. He returned on Aug. 15 as the replacement for Austin Hays, who went on the injured list with a non-displaced rib fracture, and has hit safely in eight of 10 games.

His average, if we care about such things, has risen from .077 to .280.

Though Mullins is the bunt hit king of 2020, he’s never going to catch the record holder for a single season. Not with the schedule reduced to 60 games.

With STATS research going back to 1974, Dodgers outfielder Brett Butler ranks first with 42 bunt hits in 1992. Rockies outfielder Willy Tavares is second with 37 in 2007 and Indians outfielder Kenny Lofton is third with 32 in 1992.

Two players share the Orioles record of 17, again going back to 1974 - Melvin Mora in 2001 and Corey Patterson in 2006. Paul Blair had 13 bunt hits in 1974, Mora had 12 in 2005, Patterson had 12 in 2007 and Al Bumbry had 11 in 1981.

Mullins does share one team bunt record, joining Blair in 1975 as the only players with six through the first 30 games.

Bumbry had five in 1981, Patterson had four in 2006 and Mora had four in 2004.

The major league record is nine shared by five players.

The Orioles need to give Mullins a Bundt cake to celebrate his achievement.

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