Friday’s 5-4 Orioles loss to the New York Yankees at Camden Yards was first baseman Trey Mancini’s 500th career big league game, and considering what the last year-plus of his life has looked like, that’s no small milestone.
Mancini spent 18 months stuck on 462 games after a stage 3 colon cancer diagnosis last spring required surgery and six months of treatment, meaning he missed all of 2020.
But now that he’s hit the 500-game mark, it’s further proof that a player who has been the face of this rebuilding era of Orioles baseball isn’t out of place with some of the all-time greats of the franchise.
With 93 home runs, no player who began his career with and spent his first 500 games with the Orioles has more than Mancini. He also ranks fifth in OPS, sixth in hits, and sixth in RBIs among those players — and the names he’s with on those lists are mostly a who’s who of Orioles lore.
Only Eddie Murray, Nick Markakis, Cal Ripken Jr., Boog Powell and Jay Gibbons have driven in more runs than Mancini’s 268 in their first 500 games after their debut with the Orioles. Markakis, Ripken, Murray and Chris Hoiles bested Mancini’s .815 career OPS.
And the five players with more hits than Mancini’s 516 hits in his first 500 games are Manny Machado, Markakis, Ripken, Murray and Brian Roberts.
Considering Mancini basically had a lost first half of 2018 and started slowly this year before heating up, he’s accumulated some pretty good numbers over his first 500 games.
His production this year is trending up as well. With a run-scoring double in the fifth inning Friday, Mancini is batting .280 with a .781 OPS and five extra-base hits in May. He’s driven in a team-high 30 runs, and he’s among the league leaders with 13 RBIs this month.
He can also be buoyed by the notion that his luck hasn’t still completely turned. After a dreadfully unfortunate start to the season, Mancini has had more hits sneak through the infield but still entered Friday with an expected batting average of .295, according to MLB Statcast data from BaseballSavant.com, where in reality he was batting .253. His .543 expected slugging percentage was well above his actual .452 slugging mark.
While no one on the Orioles has been more productive, no one has been unluckier in terms of converting their batted balls into productions.
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A few more hits wouldn’t materially change what his first 500 games would look like, though. And no matter what comes next for him, his place on the club’s leaderboards in terms of those who started their career here might not soon be matched.