The highest rated hitter for the 2019 Baltimore Orioles will be outfielder Cedric Mullins.
Taking Manny Machado’s 3.8 fWAR during his tenure with the Baltimore Orioles out of the equation, infielder Jonathan Villar led the 2018 Orioles with a 1.3 fWAR (54 games). Third baseman Renato Nunez appeared in just 60 games and finished behind Villar with a 0.9 fWAR.
This year’s team will likely see many low WAR totals like last year’s roster, but 2019 is all about growth and finding out who has a role on the team as we look beyond 2019 and who the Orioles should move on from. One player who I’m confident will have an influential role this season is outfielder Cedric Mullins.
Mullins has hit double-digit home runs in each of his past three seasons in the minor leagues, has a stolen base success rate of 81% on the farm, and is capable of logging at least 30 doubles across a full major league season.
On the surface, his spring numbers left much to be desired, but there were a few key numbers that allow a bit of confidence in this prediction. Mullins drew a walk in 12% of his plate appearances while striking out in just 12% of at-bats. Six of his eight hits went for extra bases, including three doubles and three home runs. He was also a perfect 4-4 in stolen base attempts.
In a piece by Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun, manager Brandon Hyde discussed Mullins and what he has seen of the 24-year-old outfielder,
“Watching him briefly in September, he’s a guy that’s got some tools, that’s got some kind of sneaky pop,” Hyde said, “and now it’s just getting experience and understanding the league and understanding how to take major league at-bats and improving defensively in center … things like that, understanding the big league game.”
Will talk of Austin Hays possibly playing center field when he reaches the majors have any effect on Mullins’ performance? He’s a small-school product who has had to prove everyone wrong his entire career. I’ll put my money on that type of player any day of the week.