Adley Rutschman and James McCann have both been playing well for the Orioles this year. They possess different strengths that allow them to add unique qualities to the team. Rutschman, still a youngster, can do many things behind the plate or in the batter's box.
McCann, a veteran, brings his experience to the young roster and can put in a solid performance with his glove to allow Rutschman a game as the designated hitter. Together, the two catchers present Brandon Hyde with several methods to utilize their abilities.
Adley Rutschman and James McCann make Baltimore a much better team
One area of play that benefits from having two starting-caliber catchers is the batter's box. Neither player bats at a high average, but Rutschman and McCann still contribute a lot to the Oriole's high-functioning offense. With a .369 on-base percentage when writing this, Rutschman is as capable of patiently waiting out a walk as he is crushing a home run.
While not as strong a batter, McCann has one skill that you would not believe if you were guessing by his appearance. He can steal bases. The veteran's speed, which has led him to three stolen bases this year despite a limited amount of times reaching base, makes him a threat to get into scoring position from a walk or single.
Over the last couple of months, Hyde has begun to use McCann as the catcher more, and Rutschman as the DH. That is because both players have shown that they are integral to either igniting a rally or finishing it off with a bang.
Peace of mind
Whenever a star player goes down, the team he plays for will want to replace him as quickly as possible. With the current situation for the Birds and their catchers, there is no need to worry about a quick replacement. If McCann or Rutschman sustains a season-ending injury, someone will be signed or called up from the farm system, but if there is only a minor injury, Hyde does not have to shuffle too many roster spots around.
The current rhythm the club has found itself in might require both players healthy, but the Orioles will not suffer with one of them gone. Regardless of which player gets injured, the Birds would have to find a new DH. That is not the hardest position to fill, as there are always options who go through hitting streaks which need a break from the field.
Should McCann go down, Rutschman is still a good catcher. He prevents almost every ball from reaching the backstop, and aside from his arm strength he is quick to react when a play is developing. The young star and veteran pitch-caller allow fans and coaches to rest well knowing that they can fill in any role asked of them.
A bright future and a level head
Very few people are giving Rutschman the credit he deserves. Labeled as the future of the program by media outlets and pundits, the pressure that the youngster is under would be crushing for most others. Instead of caving to the high expectations, he continues to play well and all with a smile on his face. He is playing like the potential dynasty superstar the fans want him to be.
On McCann's part, he is teaching Rutschman and the young squad a lot. The two catchers are often seen quickly congratulating the other for a home run or a good play behind the plate. Their dynamic, even if it highlights the elder's role as a player whose years left in the league are starting to run down, helps the team get better.
Constantly neglected in the MLB and ESPN power rankings, the Orioles have not been given their due recognition for how good they have been playing. That is beginning to change, as the youthful grin of the franchise's future is seen after every win along with the presence of a journeyman who is enjoying his team's run to the American League postseason.