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Orioles rookie Ryan Mountcastle named American League Player of the Week

A big week from Ryan Mountcastle not only signaled that the Orioles’ rookie slugger had begun to turn around a slow start to his first full major league season. It also earned him some hardware.

Mountcastle was named the American League Player of the Week, Major League Baseball announced Monday. The 24-year-old hit .458/.480/1.083 — an OPS of 1.563 — with four home runs, three doubles and 10 RBIs. By recording at least one extra-base hit in each game this past week, Mountcastle raised his season average by nearly 30 points to .254 and his OPS by more than 100 points to .729.

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This is Mountcastle’s first Player of the Week award in the majors, and he joins left-hander John Means as the Orioles’ recipients in 2021. Coming off a 2020 season in which he hit .333 with an .878 OPS in his first stint with Baltimore, Mountcastle struggled out of the gate in a season he was expected to contend for Rookie of the Year, batting .198 in April.

Last week’s power binge is more in line with what the Orioles were projected to get from him. He homered in three straight games for the first time in his career; dating to last week, his run of five home runs in 11 games made him the first Baltimore rookie with such a stretch. His three-hit game Sunday in the Orioles’ 18-5 drubbing of Cleveland did not include a home run, but it marked only the second time this year he had three hits in one game.

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Friday, his go-ahead two-run home run propelled the Orioles to their third straight win immediately after a 14-game losing streak. Mountcastle missed four games during that skid after getting hit by a pitch in his left hand. When he returned to the lineup, manager Brandon Hyde praised him for playing through some pain in an effort to help the team.

In winning Player of the Week, Mountcastle beat out teammate Cedric Mullins, who batted .542/.607/1.083 largely behind an 11-plate-appearance stretch over the weekend in which he hit three home runs while not making an out. Both will look to keep it going to week as the Orioles try to improve on their 4-1 start to June in a two-game series with the New York Mets before beginning a seven-game road trip with three against Tampa Bay.

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