Questions about Cedric Mullins’ 2021 season usually begin with, “Did you ever imagine that ...”
That he’d become the first player in Orioles history with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season.
That he’d make the All-Star team and start.
That he’d be a unanimous winner of the Most Valuable Oriole award.
Mark me down for no, no and no, and I say this in the comfort that I’m not alone.
Finishing in the top 10 in Most Valuable Player voting in the American League is another unexpected feather in his Orioles cap. Mullins placed ninth on a team that lost 110 games and he received a fourth-place vote from Do-Hyoung Park, who covers the Twins for MLB.com.
Kristie Rieken, an Associated Press reporter based in Houston, and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News voted Mullins fifth.
LaMond Pope of the Chicago Tribune and Zack Meisel, who covers the Guardians for The Athletic, had Mullins sixth.
Mullins also received three seventh-place votes, nine eighth, nine ninth and one 10th for a grand total of 87 points. Oakland’s Matt Olson finished three points ahead of him. The Rays’ Brandon Lowe of the University of Maryland was 10th with 34 points.
Three writers left Mullins off their ballots: Martín Gallegos, who covers the Athletics for MLB.com, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times and Scott Mitchell of TSN in Canada.
No Oriole has finished higher than Mullins in MVP voting since Manny Machado (fifth) in 2016. Cal Ripken Jr. is the last winner in 1991.
Ripken also won it in 1983, Boog Powell in 1970, Frank Robinson in 1966 and Brooks Robinson in 1964.
* The speculation and predictions ended on players protected in the Rule 5 draft with the Orioles placing six of their minor leaguers on the 40-man roster, leaving only the doubts about whether the Winter Meetings will be held rather than put on ice.
My apologies to pitcher Logan Gillaspie for diminishing his chances. He made it.
The clock is ticking louder on the demise of the old collective bargaining agreement. Shutting down business after Dec. 1 could mean that executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias just did his heaviest lifting for a while.
Cody Sedlock is unprotected for a third time and the Orioles are banking on teams passing on him or being unable to carry him through the entire season. He was the 27th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of the University of Illinois and finally reached Triple-A this summer, making seven appearances with Norfolk and posting a 4.45 ERA and 1.484 WHIP with 33 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.
The cancellation of the 2020 minor league season stalled Sedlock’s escape from Double-A, where he closed out 2019. He was 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA and 1.049 WHIP in 13 games (10 starts) with Single-A Frederick and struck out 66 batters in 61 innings before the bump to Bowie.
The Orioles weren’t expected to protect Sedlock, even with eight openings on the 40-man, and I’d be surprised if he’s claimed. The organization can continue its attempts to develop him into a major league starter or reliever by exposing him to the kind of data that seemed to make a big difference in 2019.
Also left unprotected, as expected, was infielder Jean Carmona, part of the return in the 2018 Jonathan Schoop trade with the Brewers. He turned 22 on Halloween and hasn’t played beyond high Single-A, which he reached this summer at Aberdeen.
Carmona hit .267/.352/.420 with six doubles, three triples, five home runs and 21 RBIs in 199 plate appearances with low Single-A Delmarva, but only .191/.226/.315 in 93 plate appearances with Aberdeen.
A team probably wasn’t going to select Pedro Florimón in 2009 after he spent the majority of the season with high Single-A Frederick, but the Orioles made the curious decision to protect him. He was chosen to participate in the Carolina League’s midseason All-Star Game, but placement on the 40-man seemed premature.
Florimón played in only four games with the Orioles in 2011, bounced around to three other teams, batting .211/.270/.319 in 321 games, and disappeared from the major league landscape after 2018. He spent this summer with Triple-A El Paso in the Padres system.
Anyway, Carmona isn’t close to planting his feet on that landscape. I just wanted to bring up his name as a reminder that he’s still around.
Other Orioles minor leaguers who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft and didn’t get mentioned in previous articles include Norfolk catcher Cody Roberts, Aberdeen infielder Ryne Ogren - acquired from the Mariners in the Mike Wright trade - Bowie outfielder Doran Turchin, Aberdeen outfielders Cristopher Céspedes and Lamar Sparks, Norfolk pitcher David Lebron, Bowie pitcher Diógenes Almengo, and IronBirds pitchers Adam Stauffer and Ignacio Feliz.
* Gillaspie tossed a scoreless eighth inning last night, as the Mesa Solar Sox defeated the Surprise Saguaros 6-0 in the championship game.
Gillaspie allowed a hit, but also struck out three batters.
Left-hander Nick Vespi also did the Orioles proud with a scoreless seventh, walking a batter and striking out three.
Caleb Kilian, the Cubs’ No. 14 prospect, started for Mesa and turned in six perfect innings.
* The Orioles were predictably shut out in Cy Young Award voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
John Means wedged himself into the early discussion with his 1.70 ERA and 0.838 WHIP in April and 2.43 ERA and 0.750 WHIP in May, and the no-hitter in Seattle. But he eventually drifted out of it.
Maybe in 2022.
I had a vote, and my top three picks matched the final results: Toronto’s Robbie Ray, New York’s Gerrit Cole and Chicago’s Lance Lynn. Ray received 29 of 30 first-place votes. I thought Cole would get more than one.
Though I easily could have been swayed, I put Houston’s Lance McCullers Jr. fourth and he finished seventh. I also nailed the fifth-place finish of Chicago’s Carlos Rodón, making me 4-for-5 and ready to turn pro.
Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi placed fourth and he was my toughest omission.
* I exchanged emails last week with former Orioles manager Dave Trembley, who served this year as manager of the Bristol State Liners in the Appalachian League.
The subject was former major league infielder Julio Lugo, who passed away last week of an apparent heart attack one day short of his 46th birthday. Lugo played for the 2010 Orioles, Trembley’s final season as their manager.
“I saw the news about Julio and was shocked,” Trembley wrote. Yes, I remember him very well from 2010. A lot of energy. Played middle infield for us, loved the game. Just a tragic loss.”
The Orioles replaced Trembley on June 4 with third base coach Juan Samuel after a 15-39 start. They hired Buck Showalter on July 29.
Showalter is viewed as a prime candidate for the Mets’ managerial opening.