How does Cedric Mullins’ 2021 season compare to other great seasons in Baltimore Orioles history?
Although a quick look at the standings wouldn’t give it away, Baltimore Orioles fans are currently witnessing one of the greatest seasons in the history of the franchise. In center field, Cedric Mullins is putting up numbers very few players have ever reached in an Orioles uniform.
Entering play on Tuesday, Mullins is slashing a torrid .300/.367/.539 over his 601 plate appearances this season, raking in the most hits of any outfielder across baseball to this point. Since moving to Baltimore in 1954, just 39 Orioles players have recorded as many hits in a single season as Mullins has this year. With 19 games remaining for the O’s this season, that list of players will only continue to grow thinner.
Currently, Mullins’ 2021 campaign is worth 5.4 WAR, falling in as the 50th-best season in franchise history by the metric. There have been a number of unforgettable seasons that jump off the page when reviewing the WAR totals across Orioles history, including Cal Ripken Jr.‘s1991 campaign. During that season, Ripken accrued 11.5 WAR, hit a career-high 34 home runs, and led MLB in total bases on the way to winning his second AL MVP award.
While Ripken’s outstanding play in 1983, 1984, 1990, and 1991 makes his case for being the greatest player in Orioles history, the best single-season performance in an Orioles uniform has to go to Frank Robinson for his 1966 season. In 1966, Robinson led the American League in batting average, on-base percentage, and runs batted in while leading all of baseball in slugging percentage, runs scored, home runs, and total bases. Robinson’s line earned him a Triple Crown, a rare statistical feat that has only been accomplished twice in the 55 years since Robinson did it. Baltimore would win its first World Series title in 1966 as well, led by World Series MVP Frank Robinson.
While Mullins doesn’t have numbers quite like Ripken or Robinson, there are places on the stat sheet that his incredible play shines through. This season, Mullins has 29 home runs and 28 stolen bases, something that no other player in Orioles history has ever achieved in a single season. If he manages to reach the coveted 30 HR/30 SB mark, Mullins will be just the 43rd player in the Live-Ball Era with a 30/30 season to his name, as well as the first to do so in an Orioles uniform.
Despite the fact that late-season Orioles games during this rebuilding stage don’t particularly matter in terms of wins and losses, the historical impact of Cedric Mullins’ chase for entry into the 30/30 club provides enough intrigue to keep even the most disheartened fans on the edge of their seats.