Mullins on his Silver Slugger Award, plus other notes

Numerous Orioles have won Silver Sluggers since the award debuted in 1980. But before Cedric Mullins, not many - maybe any - came as far with their game as he did to go from the depths to such heights.

In his first three seasons in the majors - from 2018 through 2020 - Mullins had a .632 OPS with seven homers in 418 career plate appearances. His OPS+ went from 72 in his career entering this year to 135 during a 2021 season when he became the first Oriole ever with 30 or more homers and steals in the same year.

He was the easy pick - and a unanimous one - as the Most Valuable Oriole. When the MVP voting is announced next week, Mullins won’t win that award, but should finish in the top 10, maybe even the top five.

In the 2019 season, Mullins started the year as the O’s center fielder. But after batting .094, he was demoted to the minors, ending the season in Double-A. He bounced back nicely the following year but produced nothing like he did last season, when he was simply one of the best players in the majors.

Thumbnail image for Mullins-Swings-Left-White-ST-Sidebar.jpgMullins was a special blend of power, speed and defense, and was exciting to watch. He was an outlier on a 52-win team and also spent time blossoming into a team leader.

Mullins batted .291/.360/.518 with 37 doubles, five triples, 30 homers, 30 steals, 91 runs and 59 RBIs. He was durable and dependable, playing in 159 games and taking 675 plate appearances.

He ranked among the top 10 in the American League in stolen bases (tied for second, 30), hits (fourth, 175), doubles (tied for fifth, 37), total bases (sixth, 312), OPS (eighth, .878) and extra-base hits (tied for eighth, 72). He was among the top 10 in the majors in stolen bases (tied for fourth), total bases (eighth) and hits (ninth).

Mullins hit the ball in the air at a greater rate then ever in 2021 and the power showed up. He was asked if he looked to produce more fly balls and less grounders on the live MLB Network broadcast last night.

“No, I knew I wanted to continue to work on getting the ball in the air when I would put it in play. It’s just a lot harder to get hits that way,” he said. “Still focusing on a line drive approach at the same time was kind of the middle ground I wanted to find. Working with the coaching staff and talking to players throughout the year, they were able to help maintain that approach and it led to really good success.

“The (home run) surge that I had during the year even surprised myself. Always knew I had some pop, but I was never one to try and look for the home run. I think just keeping an aggressive approach within my zone definitely helped with that. And being able to maintain that throughout the year led to the 30.”

While hitting the longball 30 times, Mullins still got on base and ignited the Orioles from the top of the order with an aggressive approach in the box.

“It really hasn’t changed from the way, even back in the day, as it was played,” he said on the telecast. “Find a way to get on base. For me to know that guys would be aggressive (pitching) in the zone, I didn’t see the need to take. When I got pitches in my zone I was definitely swinging.”

The website BetOnline.ag has released the odds for the awards that will be announced next week in Major League Baseball. The award finalists were announced earlier this week.

AL MVP

Shohei Ohtani, 1/25
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 13/2
Marcus Semien, 33/1

AL Cy Young

Robbie Ray, 1/15
Gerrit Cole, 11/2
Lance Lynn, 33/1

AL Rookie of the Year

Randy Arozarena, 2/5
Wander Franco, 2/1
Luis Garcia, 12/1

blog comments powered by Disqus