At the end of every academic term, endeavoring scholars have their output condensed down into final grades. Here at Birds Watcher, the rules are no different. With the 2022 Baltimore Orioles season in the books and the off-season fast approaching, player report cards have come due and first to meet with the teacher (well…me) is our very own best baseball boy: Adley Rutschman.
Grading for hitters is broken down into the following categories: offense and defense, both self-explanatory, and a random category of my choice depending on the player – think of it like a PE class if you will. The Grade Point Average of the three “courses” will be calculated using the standard college format. Enough minutiae, let the grading begin!
2022 Baltimore Orioles Report Cards: Grading Adley Rutschman
Attendance in school (and baseball) is paramount, so how could Adley Rutschman possibly get a A when he missed the first month and a half of the season?
Because he’s good. Stupid good. Shake your head in amazement good.
Of the MLB catchers who had 400 or more plate appearances, only five posted a higher wOBA than Adley Rutschman’s .344 (JT Realmuto, Will Smith, Willson Contreras, Alejandro Kirk, and Sean Murphy) and only six had a higher slugging percentage. Rutschman’s 70 runs scored trailed only Realmuto (75).
Rutschman’s prodigious plate discipline alone is worthy of high marks. His 13.8% walk rate ranked 12th out of all major league hitters with 400+ plate appearances and his chase rate (swings at pitches outside the strike zone) ranked 26th among all hitters using the same criteria. Enrobed in hype and tasked with adjusting to the big leagues and handling a new pitching staff, Rutschman still managed to become one of baseball’s elite offensive catchers almost instantly.
Defense was never a question with Adley Rutschman. Had he gone straight from Oregon State to Baltimore in 2019, he likely would’ve been an above average MLB defender even then.
You name the category, Rutschman is likely near the top of the leaderboard. Framing? His 4 framing runs placed him in the 84th percentile of qualified catchers. Pop time to second base? Rutschman’s 1.93 second average is in the 79th percentile.
The standout of his defensive game is the raw arm strength. His pop time is due in large part to the right arm Rutschman possesses – his average throw clocked in at 86.3 MPH. Needless to say, baserunner beware.
There is no shortage of qualities to admire about Adley Rutschman as a baseball player. Executives, players, and fans alike will continue to wax poetic about his above average, switch-hitting bat and elite defense but let they not distract you from what Rutschman does best: hug pitchers.
That dude has a hug that a Golden Retriever would die for. It’s no surprise that Félix Bautista became so dominant – I’d be throwing 101 too if I knew that hug was coming.
In all seriousness, it’s clear while watching Orioles games that Rutschman is the pitcher’s number one fan, living and dying with every single pitch. It has to be a boost to the pitcher’s confidence and overall clubhouse morale that their catcher (and presumptive face of the franchise) has the team’s back to that degree.
Final GPA: 4.0
A perfect 4.0 for Adley Rutschman, as if his GPA could have been anything else. The Baltimore Orioles transformed the moment he made his major league debut and without whom, an 83 win season would have been nigh impossible. Rutschman is already one of Major League Baseball’s best catchers and should be expected to post more grade-A performances for seasons to come.