The Baltimore Orioles seemed to have a rotating door of rookies in the 2020 season, but one dominated the rest.
Of course, several more performed well, but not at the same level that Mountcastle did. After much anticipation, he debuted on August 21 and did not disappoint. He walked twice and scored once in his debut game against the Red Sox.
His first hit came one day later, also against the Red Sox, then went on to earn at least one hit in five consecutive games. His consistency was notable, especially after he hit his first home run on August 30. He didn’t just hit one, he hit two against Tanner Roark of the Blue Jays. He finished the season with five home runs, a WAR of 0.5, and a slash of .333/.386/.492.
Mountcastle outperformed the other rookie in the outfield: Austin Hays. Now, this does not mean that Hays wasn’t a rookie to watch. In fact, Hays was better on defense than Mountcastle, simply because Hays has more speed. But, Mountcastle’s bat made more difference.
Hays played in 33 games. Mountcastle played in 35. Despite Hays earning slightly more WAR than Mountcastle, Hays just wasn’t as clutch at the plate. Hays final WAR for 2020 was 0.7. His slash was .279/.328/.393. It is easy to see that Mountcastle’s power and consistency were simply better than Hays.
The other two rookies worth noticing were on the mound: Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer, and Dillon Tate. These three pitchers had ups and downs, but their ups were hopeful. Akin had eight starts with an ERA of 4.56 and a WHIP of 1.442. Kremer had four starts with an ERA of 4.82 and a WHIP of 1.446. Tate saw 16.2 innings of relief with an ERA of 3.24 and a WHIP of 0.840.
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Kremer’s most notable start was against the Yankees where he outperformed Masahiro Tanaka. Then, he went toe-to-toe against Jordan Montgomery with the Yankees in his second start. His fourth start was his worst, and he only lasted 2.2 innings against the Red Sox. He finished 2020 with a WAR of 0.7.
Akin’s eight starts were more mixed than Kremer’s. The highlight of Akin’s 2020 season was the September 5 start against Gerrit Cole. In 5.1 innings, Akin shut down the Yankees with three hits and eight Ks. In Akin’s eight games, the Orioles lost four and won four. His final record was 1-2 and his WAR was 0.5.
Tate’s WHIP was one of the best on the team with only Cesar Valdez and Shaun Armstrong having better numbers. His 2020 WAR was 0.4. The best numbers for relief pitchers are rows of goose eggs, and Tate had three games where he achieved the goal of not giving up hits, runs, or walks. All of them were against New York team during their hottest stretch in early September.
Fans are fortunate that they will get to watch these five Orioles for many years into the future.