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Means runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year

@JoeTrezz
November 11, 2019

John Means’ ascendant rookie season was not enough to net him the American League Rookie of the Year Award, but it did result in the best finish for an Orioles player in quite some time. It was announced Monday that Means placed second in this year’s Baseball Writers’ Association of

John Means’ ascendant rookie season was not enough to net him the American League Rookie of the Year Award, but it did result in the best finish for an Orioles player in quite some time. It was announced Monday that Means placed second in this year’s Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting for the award, behind only unanimous winner Yordan Alvarez.

Rookie of the Year vote totals

Means was named on 21 of 30 ballots, earning 16 second-place votes and five third-place votes. Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe finished third, in front of White Sox slugger Eloy Jiménez and Blue Jays infielder Cavan Biggio.

By placing second, Means became the highest Orioles finisher since 2002, when pitcher Rodrigo Lopez was that year’s runner-up. Trey Mancini (third, 2017), Daniel Cabrera (third, 2004), and Jorge Julio (third, 2002) represent the franchise’s other recent top-three finishers. The last Oriole to claim the honor was closer Gregg Olson in 1989.

Past Rookie of the Year Award winners

Means became the first left-handed starting pitcher to earn a top-two finish for AL ROY since CC Sabathia in 2001.

“You think about going out and doing your job,” Means said on MLB Network before the announcement. “We had a young team and a lot of guys who just loved playing baseball. I went out and tried to do my job.”

Over the course of the season, Means repeatedly did so better than anyone else on Baltimore’s staff. Overall, he went 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA in 31 games (27 starts) for the pitching-starved Orioles, who posted the Majors’ highest staff ERA and set a Major League record for home runs allowed. The 26-year-old southpaw led all AL rookie starters in wins (12) and walks per nine innings (2.2). He was second in FanGraphs WAR (2.8), ERA and innings (155), and was third in strikeouts (121).

Means was responsible for nearly a quarter of the Orioles’ wins, and nearly a third of those compiled by their starters. He led the O’s in wins, ERA, WHIP (1.14), quality starts (11) and WAR.

Here’s how MLB.com writers voted for ROY and why

“He gave us a chance to win every five or six days and just really impressed with everything in his game,” O’s manager Brandon Hyde said in September. "He came into the season with a no-fear attitude and attacked guys and threw a ton of strikes. I think we’ve had a bunch of good stories, to be honest with you. John was just the story on the pitching side.”

The only reason it didn’t translate into Rookie of the Year honors was because what Alvarez did was historic. The 22-year-old designated hitter began compiling numbers as soon as he was inserted into Houston’s high-octane lineup, hitting .313 with 27 homers, 78 RBIs and a rookie-record 1.067 OPS in 87 games.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.