Trey Mancini continued what has quietly been one of the most productive offensive seasons in baseball Wednesday night.
Oakland Athletics right-hander Frankie Montas retired the first 12 Orioles he faced in a 10-3 victory before Mancini sent a 2-0 fastball out to right-center field for his sixth home run. Mancini’s six home runs are more than all but three major leaguers, with the right-handed hitter sending all of them to center or right field.
“Once they’re throwing the ball on the opposite side of the plate, I’m just not trying to do too much with it,” Mancini said. “Not overswinging and just taking what’s given to me. Some of those have just happened to go for home runs, so it’s not like I’m trying all the time to hit them that way, but that’s kinda how it’s happened so far.”
Mancini didn’t homer in the season’s first two games, but has yet to go more than one game without homering since. His six home runs through 12 games match Frank Robinson in 1969 and Chris Davis in 2013 for the Orioles’ franchise record.
Robinson and Davis finished their respective seasons third in American League Most Valuable Player voting, and although 150 games remain in the 2019 campaign, Mancini is putting up numbers to this point that stand among the best in baseball.
Only Cody Bellinger, Khris Davis and Jay Bruce, with seven each, have hit more home runs than Mancini’s six, a number matched by Paul Goldschmidt and Gary Sánchez. Mancini’s .787 slugging percentage ranks fifth in the majors.
On Wednesday, he settled on looking away, so when Montas fired a 95.2 mph two-seamer down and away, Mancini was able to rocket it out at 106.7 mph, per Statcast data.
“I was just kind of looking for something out over the plate,” Mancini said. “Looking outer half there, and he threw it there, so just tried to put a short, compact swing on it, and luckily, it took off.”
Although Mancini’s average exit velocity and hard-hit rate are in line with previous seasons, his launch angle entering play Wednesday was more than 5 degrees higher than last season’s average.
That added loft has enabled his sharply hit line drives, such as Wednesday’s, to go over the fence.
“I think Trey’s coming into his own as a player,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “The strength is — to hit a line drive like that out to right field, it’s impressive, and he’s done that a few times. He’s not just a one-dimensional hitter. He’s a hitter first, and he’s got so much strength that line drives can go out the ballpark. Good athlete, played a nice first base tonight. I think he’s still scratching the surface on what kind of player he’s gonna be.”
Although he delivered Wednesday’s home run as a first baseman, Mancini has pieced together his offensive production while playing mostly right field, a position he had appeared at in the majors only twice before this season. He’s taking his defensive assignments as they come, the same approach he’s taking at the plate.
“Just to try not to think too much, honestly,” Mancini said of what’s caused his early success. “I’m just kind of picking a spot on the plate and just committing to it, and I have an idea what I want to do up there and I’m sticking to it. If the pitcher beats me, I’ll tip my cap, but just trying to control what I can.”