We’ve made it past the awards portion of the offseason. Someone pump the brakes before we slam into the New Year.
One point for one of the most important players in the rebuild.
If you have an affinity for early projections, Mountcastle will rank among the favorites for the honor in 2021. He’s going to be on the opening day roster. No “late arrival” excuses or explanations.
Tampa Bay outfielder Randy Arozarena, who hit 10 home runs in the postseason to set the major league record, also will be eligible. He didn’t receive any votes. Ballots were turned in before the playoffs.
As I wrote on Monday, I had a Rookie of the Year vote and selected Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis, White Sox outfielder Luis Robert and Indians reliever James Karinchak.
Lewis was a unanimous selection. I got that one right. Robert received 27 second-place votes. Again, nailed it.
Astros pitcher Cristian Javier also was a finalist and received 11 third-place votes. I considered him and wondered if I dropped the ball, but Karinchak garnered five third-place votes after registering a 2.67 ERA and 1.111 WHIP in 27 games and averaging an astounding 17.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
He allowed only one home run to further impress.
The 16 walks in 27 innings were a strike against him, so to speak.
I didn’t forget about Mountcastle. He appeared in 35 games after joining the Orioles on Aug. 21 and he was spectacular. No argument there. But the delayed debut worked against him in voting.
There’s also the uncomfortable feeling of choosing someone from the team that you cover. The beat relationship shouldn’t be held against him, but no one wants to be viewed as a homer if there are a bunch of worthy candidates - and a few who clearly stand above the rest of the field.
Then again, you bypass that player and risk hard feelings from the organization and fans.
Twitter didn’t blow up on me, which was shocking. And Mountcastle isn’t the type of player to get upset over it or hold a grudge. That wasn’t a concern of mine.
Give him a full season in 2021, in whatever form, and I’m confident that he’ll be in the discussion. But I won’t be voting. The media switches up each year.
I’m in charge of assigning awards to eligible members in the Baltimore/Washington chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and purposely gave myself Rookie of the Year instead of Manager of the Year. I didn’t want to be put in an awkward situation with Brandon Hyde.
This was earlier in the summer when the Orioles were making a run at the postseason and gaining national attention. So, of course, they finish 10 games below .500 and Mountcastle ranks among rookie leaders in numerous categories.
I should have known, given my track record.
The Orioles could be loaded with candidates in 2021. The rotation is expected to include Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer, with Bruce Zimmermann also in the running. Outfielder Yusniel Diaz is likely to be promoted over the summer. And a few other first-timers could make it onto the roster, depending on length of schedule and other factors.
Hyde might be a finalist among managers if the Orioles contend again and certainly if they squeeze into the playoffs. They’re trending in the right direction, but remain in rebuild mode.
No one on the club had a shot at Most Valuable Player or Cy Young in 2020. John Means could chase the latter award if he comes close to duplicating his finish this summer.
He’d be the first Orioles pitcher to win it since Steve Stone in 1980.
Over his final four starts, Means went 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA, three walks and 30 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. Opponents batted .146.
Means closed out his season by retiring 17 of the first 18 Blue Jays and carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He struck out seven Rays in a row on Sept. 20 to tie Sammy Stewart’s club record.
He had Cy Young stuff. Maybe the votes come in 2021.