Brandon Hyde coached a star-studded team to the best record in the American League. While pitching played a big role in the team's success, hitting often delivered in the clutch. Several Orioles helped Baltimore overpower opposing pitching.
These 5 O's hitters were a nightmare for the competition
Being a good hitter comes in many forms. Home runs are an easy way to get a quick run, but they are most effective when there are other runners on base. Walks and contact hitting allow the power hitters to maximize their output. Intelligence on the basepath also adds to a hitter's value.
Baltimore had players who fit into each category this year. An array of talented youngsters and veterans seemed to get hot at different times, so pitchers never knew what to expect. Many had impressive years, but five stand out for spectacular seasons.
1. Anthony Santander
'Tony Taters' led the team in home runs, doubles, total bases and RBIs. He was the power in the lineup that Camden Yards sat on the edge of their seat ready for a shot to soar onto Eutaw Street. His 95 runs batted in were a sizeable 13 ahead of his closest teammate.
A switch-hitter who can bat effectively on either side of the plate, Santander's numbers would have been even more monstrous if the left field wall had not been moved back. 41 doubles and 28 home runs could easily have been 35 and 34 if the dimensions had been kept the same.
2. Adley Rutschman
The leader in average, OBP and hits, among eligible players, the all-star catcher continued his good form from last season. His .374 on-base percentage was aided by an incredible eye that further made him someone that pitchers did not want to face.
Rutschman additionally led the team in walks, with a whopping 92 free bases thanks to his patience. The youngster is no stranger to power-hitting either. 20 home runs and 31 doubles highlight how the catcher's .277 batting average was very diverse.
3. Ryan O'Hearn
Not eligible for the team's batting title due to the number of games he played, the veteran still contributed greatly in the 111 games he played in. His .289 average was not expected from the former Royals player who secured a spot in the lineup once his form set in.
37 of the first baseman's 100 hits were for extra bases. O'Hearn hit for contact well, even if he struck out often. The aggression he showed secured a place in the hearts of the Birdland faithful and fans will be pressuring the front office to ensure he comes back next year.
4. Gunnar Henderson
The "Most Valuable Oriole" and 2022 Minor League Player of the Year, Henderson is a near lock to add another personal award in 2023. The AL Rookie of the Year has not been announced yet, but thanks to a great season, the third baseman has left no doubt about who the honor belongs to.
His nine triples were good enough for third in the league. 29 doubles, 28 home runs and 10 stolen bases completed an elite campaign. Power, contact, speed and patience make Henderson one of the most-watched players in baseball as he continues to develop into a possible future MVP.
5. Austin Hays
Another all-star this year, Brandon Hyde's preferred left fielder hit .275 on the season. 36 doubles and 16 home runs shed light on Hays' hitting style. His speed and plate intelligence make him a natural contact hitter who still has the chance to go yard if you mistake his patience for weakness.
A less impressive second half of the season does not do justice to how easily Hays was finding open space in the outfield before the all-star break. His .325 OBP remained second only to Rutschman. Eligible for arbitration next year, Hays will be a player that Hyde will want back for next season.