BALTIMORE -- “We need to start talking about him more for [American League] Rookie of the Year,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said on Thursday. “Write that down, M-O-U-N ...”
The skipper didn’t need to finish spelling his name to know exactly who he was talking about: Ryan Mountcastle.
Mountcastle smacked his 26th home run of the season to cap a nine-run eighth inning in Wednesday’s 9-8 comeback win against the Royals. Mountcastle ranks behind only Cal Ripken Jr. (28 in 1982) and Eddie Murray (27 in ‘77) for the most by an Orioles rookie since 1954. His 77 RBIs rank as the sixth most by an O's player during a rookie campaign.
Mountcastle is making history within his club, but compared to other MLB rookies, he sits atop those leaderboards as well.
“What he's done here these last four months, he’s been an impact player in this league,” Hyde said. “[He is] showing you the power that he has and improving defensively at first base, and driving and runs. He made some great adjustments at the plate after the first month and has put together a very, very strong rookie campaign.”
After batting just .198 in April, Mountcastle entered Thursday with the second-highest batting average at .266 for the O’s and led the team in RBIs by double digits.
Across the AL, the race for the Rookie of the Year Award is tight, but Mountcastle is right there. Among qualified rookies, he ranks second in slugging percentage (.495) and weighted runs created (71). Even after his slow start to the season, Mountcastle still ranks third in hits (118) and runs (66), and seventh in batting average.
The Orioles couldn’t be happier with Mountcastle's production. His aggressiveness at the plate, swinging at 41 percent of the first pitches he sees, and his ability to read pitches, drawing 10 walks in his last 15 games, shows maturity and discipline at the plate -- well beyond a rookie year.