The face of the Orioles’ future and one of the most significant faces of their past are among the finalists for the Major League Baseball Players Association’s yearly honors.
Baltimore catcher Adley Rutschman was named an American League Outstanding Rookie finalist Thursday, while longtime Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson is among the candidates for the Curt Flood Award, with voting performed by members of the players’ union. Major League Baseball also announced finalists for the Silver Slugger Award for the top hitters at each position, with Rutschman among the six catchers and Anthony Santander one of 10 outfielders recognized in the AL.
Rutschman, 24, has been heralded as the Orioles’ top prospect and one of the best in the sport since his selection as the first overall pick in the 2019 draft. Although a spring training tricep injury delayed his arrival to the majors, he made an immediate impact once he reached Baltimore. Eight games under .500 when Rutschman made his debut, the Orioles became an unexpected playoff contender by going 67-55 with him on the roster, with their success and his performance earning him Most Valuable Oriole.
In 113 games played, Rutschman hit .254/.362/.445 with 13 home runs. His 35 doubles broke Cal Ripken Jr.’s franchise rookie record. His 5.3 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs, led the Orioles and AL catchers and tied with Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez for the lead among all rookies.
Along with Rutschman, Rodríguez and Kansas City Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr. are finalists for AL Outstanding Rookie. Entering the season, various publications ranked each member of the trio as the No. 1 prospect in the sport. Rodríguez, the favorite over Rutschman to win the league’s AL Rookie of the Year award, hit 28 home runs and stole 25 bases — the third rookie with at least 25 of each — to help the Mariners to their first playoff berth since 2001. The second overall pick behind Rutschman in 2019, Witt was the fifth player 22 or younger to record a 20-homer, 30-steal season.
For the AL catcher Silver Slugger, Rutschman contends with Toronto’s Alejandro Kirk, Oakland’s Sean Murphy, Seattle’s Cal Raleigh, Kansas City’s Salvador Pérez and Houston’s Martín Maldonado.
Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle was the AL Outstanding Rookie in 2021 but was not among the finalists for the MLB award, which is voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. If Rutschman finishes in the top two of AL Rookie of the Year voting, he will qualify for a full year of service time and be scheduled to reach free agency after the 2027 season. Otherwise, he will remain under team control through 2028. Finalists for all BBWAA awards, including MVP, Cy Young and Manager of the Year, will be announced Nov. 7.
Named for the player whose decline of a trade eventually led to the creation of free agency, the Curt Flood Award recognizes “a former player, living or deceased, who in the image of Flood demonstrated a selfless, longtime devotion to the Players Association and advancement of Players’ rights.”
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Robinson, 85, was the Orioles’ player representative to the MLBPA for 10 years and the representative for the AL from 1970 to 1975, the union said in its announcement. In the latter role, he was among the leaders in a group of players who voted to go on strike in 1972. A decade later, he helped found the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. The other Curt Flood Award finalists are Buck Martinez, a former catcher who served as a color commentator on Orioles television broadcasts from 2003 to 2009, and Steve Rogers.
Robinson spent each of his 23 major league seasons as an Oriole. A two-time World Series champion and 18-time All-Star, he won 16 consecutive Gold Gloves at third base from 1960 to 1975. He was twice honored this season at Camden Yards, first as part of the ballpark’s 30th anniversary celebration — representing the team’s history preceding the iconic venue — and again a month later for “Thanks, Brooks” Day, commemorating the 45th anniversary of his retirement ceremony.
Santander, who turned 28 last week, set career highs in games played (152), home runs (33) and RBIs (89). His 55 walks nearly matched the total he drew across his first five seasons combined. In each of those categories, as well as slugging percentage and OPS, he ranked in the top two among Orioles. The other finalists are Rodríguez, New York’s Aaron Judge, Houston’s Kyle Tucker, Los Angeles’ Mike Trout and Taylor Ward, Toronto’s George Springer and Teoscar Hernández, Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena and Texas’ Adolis García, with three of them receiving the award. Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins’ 30-30 season earned him a Silver Slugger in 2021.
Mateo voted best defensive shortstop
Jorge Mateo strangely was not among the AL’s shortstop Gold Glove finalists, but another voting panel Thursday named him baseball’s best defensive shortstop in either league.
Mateo received Sports Info Solutions’ Fielding Bible Award for shortstops, becoming the first Oriole at the position to win the award in its 17-season history. The 27-year-old led all qualified shortstops in Statcast’s Outs Above Average and was one of the leaders for Defensive Runs Saved.
Yet he wasn’t one of three finalists for what would have been his first career Gold Glove, with votes from managers and coaches around the league instead determining Houston’s Jeremy Peña, Minnesota’s Carlos Correa and Boston’s Xander Bogaerts as the AL’s top defensive shortstops.
Mullins and Baltimore third baseman Ramón Urías were Gold Glove finalists at their respective positions, but neither came away with a Fielding Bible Award.