At the conclusion of the season, the MLB will announce its selections for the All-MLB first and second teams. The award was established in 2019 as a way of honoring the best players at each position. Each of the two teams feature one position player for each infield position, three outfielders, a designated hitter, 5 starting pitchers, and two relief pitchers. Here are 4 Orioles that are worthy of a selection.
Adley Rutschman, C
Rutschman may have the best case of any Oriole for an All-MLB spot. Although his numbers are slightly worse than they were in his rookie campaign, Rutschman is still having a fantastic season. He sits at the top of nearly every statistic for catchers in 2023.
Rutschman leads all MLB catchers in games played with 147, hits with 154, walks with 85, and bWAR which sits at 3.9. Rutschman also ranks top 5 amongst catchers in doubles, RBI's, total extra base hits, batting average, on base percentage, and OPS+. Rutschman has also been an elite defender this season, with Fangraphs ranking him as a top 20 defender in baseball and a top 5 catcher defensively.
The only argument against Rutschman potentially making an All-MLB team would be that his stats are inflated due to more games played and plate appearances. But I would argue the opposite. Modern day catchers are often given regularly scheduled days off, but Rutschman is too vital to the Orioles and their offense to sit out once or twice a week.
The fact that Rutschman has maintained this level of offensive play, even with little rest, is a testament to the player Rutschman has become for the O's. He's certainly deserving of an All-MLB spot.
Felix Bautista, Closer
Bautista was having a historically great season before suffering an injury to his UCL at the end of August, but his numbers still warrant an All-MLB first team selection. Bautista recorded an other-worldly 16.23 strikeouts per 9 innings in 61 innings pitched before suffering the injury. That mark leads all MLB pitchers. At one point this season, Bautista was on pace to match Aroldis Chapman's record for strikeout rate in a season, showing the absolute dominance of "The Mountain".
Bautista recorded 110 strikeouts in his 61 innings and recorded and ERA of just 1.48, which still remains in the top 5 for relievers this season. Bautista also leads all closers in bWAR, with an astounding 3 wins above replacement. He's still in the top-10 in saves even though he hasn't pitched in roughly a month.
Bautista would be a shoe-in for All-MLB first team if he hadn't suffered the injury, but his numbers still support the fact that he was the best closer in baseball this season.
Kyle Bradish, SP
Bradish has been one of the key catalysts to the Orioles success this season. The conversation throughout the entire season was about the Orioles starting pitching and how they would be in trouble come playoff time since they don't have a true ace. Well, that argument was squashed thanks to Kyle Bradish.
Bradish has established himself as a legitimate, number one starter for the O's this season and he has played his way into the Cy Young conversation. Now he won't win it (thanks to the dominance of Gerrit Cole), but Bradish could very well finish in the top-5. He currently ranks 7th in the MLB in bWAR among pitchers, 6th in ERA with a mark of just 3.01, and he's also 8th in the majors in WHIP at 1.07.
Bradish also features fantastic advanced numbers, featuring the 9th best FIP in the majors while sitting in the top 77th percentile in ground ball percentage, and 80th percentile in walk percentage. In order to make one of the All-MLB teams, you have to be a top-10 starter in baseball and I believe Bradish has become that in 2023.
Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B
Henderson may be the biggest longshot of the 4 Orioles, but I believe he should at least be in the conversation thanks to a stellar second half. The issue is that Henderson has played both shortstop and third base this season, which could cause voters to stray away since there is not utility position for the All-MLB teams. But I'm going to be comparing Henderson to other shortstops around the league because that is the position he has mostly played in the second half of the season.
As I mentioned earlier Henderson needs to be in the conversation because he has developed into one of the best all-around players in baseball. For starters, Henderson's surface level numbers are fantastic. Henderson is top-4 or better in homeruns, slugging percentage, WRC+, and RBIs among major league shortstops. He is also tied for the major league lead with 9 triples this season.
But I think the biggest argument for Henderson making an All-MLB team is where he lands in terms of bWAR. Thanks to his elite all-around play, Henderson has a bWAR of 6.1 this season, meaning he's one of the most valuable position players in all of baseball.
He ranks 7th in the majors in this category, trailing only one shortstop for the league lead in bWAR (Corey Seager is above him at 6.8). Even if Henderson doesn't make one of the All-MLB teams this season, I'd bet he makes it sometime in the near future.
As I mentioned earlier, the Orioles have had some great individual performances this season. It'll be very interesting to see if these 4 players get the national recognition that they deserve when the season concludes.