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Orioles’ Cedric Mullins wins AL Silver Slugger Award after breakout season

Orioles star center fielder Cedric Mullins became the team’s first Silver Slugger Award winner since 2016 on Thursday night, marking one of the most surprising offensive breakouts in recent baseball history with one final piece of hardware this awards season.

Mullins already has Most Valuable Oriole honors to his name and will assuredly receive some down-ballot American League Most Valuable Player votes when those are revealed later this month, but he wasn’t even a finalist for the Gold Glove Award in center field despite his impressive defense there.

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Either way, Mullins’ Silver Slugger honors in the outfield for the American League, along with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Teoscar Hernández and the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge, was deserved.

Having only returned to the majors in 2020 after a demotion all the way down to Double-A Bowie in 2019, Mullins went from being a switch-hitter to strictly hitting from the left side before the 2021 season and found immediate dividends. Focusing on one swing proved simpler for him, and he was an All-Star while batting .291 with an .878 OPS. His 30 home runs and 30 steals gave him the first 30-30 season in Orioles history.

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Mark Trumbo was the last Oriole to win the honor as an outfielder five years ago after hitting a league-leading 47 home runs.

Mullins’ honor contributed to the AL East’s dominance of the awards. Including his fellow outfielders, the division also supplied the entire infield’s worth of Silver Slugger winners, with Boston third baseman Rafael Devers and shortstop Xander Bogaerts on the left side and Toronto second baseman Marcus Semien and first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on the right side.

The Kansas City Royals’ Salvador Perez won for catcher, while Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani won for designated hitter.

Mullins is also nominated for the All-MLB team in center field along with rookie Ryan Mountcastle at first base. Mountcastle was the Players Choice Award winner for AL Outstanding Rookie, while Trey Mancini won Comeback Player of the Year from the players. The MLB Comeback Player of the Year award has yet to be announced.

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