Orioles rookie left-hander John Means, who represented the team as their only All-Star in 2019, is in the mix to add another honor to his resume.

The 26-year-old left-hander was announced Monday night as one of the three finalists for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, along with Houston Astros slugger Yordan Álvarez and Tampa Bay Rays infielder Brandon Lowe, a University of Maryland product.


Means was one of the few bright spots in an Orioles season that went mostly as expected, though he certainly outperformed what anyone in the organization had him pegged for in 2019. After making his debut as an emergency call-up the previous September, Means has often proclaimed that he expected to be among the first spring training roster cuts this year.

Instead, by adding velocity to his fastball through a specialized offseason training program and improving his changeup, he not only made the team, but solidified a starting rotation spot within a month.

He had a 2.50 ERA at the All-Star break, and though he didn’t pitch in the game itself, he was dominant throughout the first half and broke out of a late-July swoon to finish with a 3.82 ERA in September.

Means made 31 appearances (27 starts) with a 12-11 record, a 3.60 ERA, and a 1.135 WHIP.

Because of a pair of trips to the injured list for shoulder soreness, Means’ 155 innings weren’t enough to qualify him for any of the season-end leaderboards. If he’d reached the 162-inning threshold, Means would have been seventh in ERA and sixth in WHIP among American League starters.

The last Orioles player to finish in the top-three in voting and be named a finalist was outfielder Trey Mancini in 2017, who came in third behind eventual winner Aaron Judge and runner-up Anthony Benintendi. Closer Gregg Olsen was the last Oriole to win the award in 1989.

Means’ path to change that will be a difficult one, considering the competition. Álvarez was called up in late-June against the Orioles and hit 27 home runs with a .313 average and a 1.067 OPS in barely four months, establishing himself as the prohibitive favorite.

The winner will be announced on Nov. 11 on MLB Network.

Cobb activated; Ynoa outrighted

The Orioles’ roster housekeeping continued Monday as the team activated right-hander Alex Cobb (hip surgery) off the 60-day injured list and added him back to the 40-man roster, while outrighting right-hander Gabriel Ynoa off the roster. Ynoa elected to become a free agent.

Ynoa was third on the team with 110⅔ innings in 2019, pitching in a variety of roles for manager Brandon Hyde and finishing with a 5.61 ERA. But because Ynoa was outrighted off the roster last offseason, he had the right to refuse an assignment to Triple-A and will be free to sign with any team this offseason.

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