BALTIMORE -- Trey Mancini's career year wasn’t enough for him to earn an All-Star bid, but that didn’t stop him from spending the summer emerging as one of the American League’s most productive players. On Friday, Mancini's career year netted him the Orioles’ highest individual accolade.
Mancini was named the recipient of the 2019 Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award, given annually to Baltimore's top player by the local media. Mancini joined Adam Jones (2018), Jonathan Schoop ('17), Manny Machado ('16) and Chris Davis ('13 and '15) as notable recent winners. He will be recognized in an on-field ceremony prior to Sunday’s home finale against the Mariners.
“It’s a great honor and something I definitely don’t take for granted,” Mancini said. “I’m very thankful to be here and receive the award.”
Though there were analytical arguments for Jonathan Villar and John Means, Mancini was long the favorite to claim the award given his breakout 2019. The Orioles’ most consistent hitter since Opening Day, Mancini has set career-highs in hits (163), doubles (36), homers (34), runs scored (100), RBIs (93) and walks (56), ranking among the AL’s top outfielders in several of those categories.
All told, Mancini entered play Friday hitting .286/.356/.536 with 305 total bases. In public settings throughout the season, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde and general manager and executive vice president Mike Elias have routinely called Mancini the club's best player.
“He’s had an amazing year,” Hyde said. “He’s finished the year extremely strong. He’s done everything for us this year. An All-Star-type year, a great player, one of the better years in the American League. Class guy. He’s everything you want. Well deserved.”
Mancini said that he was most proud of the way he rebounded from his disappointing '18, when he hit .216/.292/.363 in the first half and worried that he’d be demoted. His second half was most aligned with the production that netted him a third-place finish in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting in '17, and Mancini hasn’t stopped hitting since. He is one of three MLB players with at least 35 doubles, 34 homers and 100 runs scored, along with MVP candidates Anthony Rendon and Alex Bregman.
“I always knew I was the player I knew I was.” Mancini said. “But there was some doubt from a lot of people, and rightfully so, about whether I was the 2017 or 2018 version of myself. I knew it was the former. I wanted to go out this year and play my hardest and play for the team every night. I knew if I did that, I’d be happy with myself at the end of the year.”
For an Orioles lineup largely lacking big league experience, having Mancini as its linchpin has been a boon. He’s often had to carry the load against elite pitching, and he sports an OPS 72 points higher in Oriole wins than in losses.
“If he was on some of these other teams, he’d have 110 RBIs, with multiple more home runs because of teams having to pitch to him a little bit more, more traffic on the bases -- those type of things,” Hyde said. “For the year that he’s having in a situation like ours and not the protection around him veteran-wise, even though we have some guys having some nice years, it just speaks volumes as to what kind of player and person he is.”
Hyde also lauded Mancini’s professionalism, passion and budding leadership skills, which the manager believes can blossom further.
“For me, it’s time,” Hyde said. “It’s time to not just let his actions show what kind of player he is, but he can lead guys too, in different ways. He’s really smart. He's engaging. He's fun to be around. Guys really respect him. He has a great attitude. As he gets more comfortable being in the big leagues and putting up years like he’s just put up, that will be more natural for him to pull guys aside and teach along the way as well.”