MLB Prospect Watch: Adley Rutschman helps the surging Orioles and lives up to the hype – CBS Sports

MLB Prospect Watch: Adley Rutschman helps the surging Orioles and lives up to the hype - CBS Sports

Here’s a question that would be silly to ask in early July: Can Adley Rutschman overtake Julio Rodríguez for the American League Rookie of the Year Award?

At the time, Rutschman was a month into his big league career and contending. He exited June batting .220/.287/.407 with three home runs in 32 games. Rodríguez, on the other hand, spent the entire season in the majors and compiled a .272/.333/.466 slash line with 13 home runs in 77 games. No one doubted Rutschman’s future, but it seemed unlikely that he would cause Rodríguez to sweat.

Since then? Rutschman showed why CBS Sports ranked him as the sport’s top prospect entering the spring. He hit .284/.439/.451 with 13 extra base hits and more walks (27) than strikeouts (20) in his last 32 games. He was one of the main drivers behind the Orioles‘ splashing out. Rodríguez has performed well as well, batting for an .884 OPS, but injuries have limited his availability recently, allowing Rutschman a chance to close — and remember, when it comes to awards, it’s all about the counting stats.

There’s no easy way to judge the actual distance between the two players in the eyes of the voters, but one way to gauge these kinds of things is to consider the gap in their various Win Above Replacement metrics. To wit, Rutschman is 0.4 wins behind in both Baseball Prospectus and the calculations of FanGraphs; he remains more than a win back according to Baseball-Reference’s framework, however. It’s time for those marks to change, but it seems fair to write that Rodríguez remains safe as the current front-runner for the award.

Of course, none of this detracts from what Rutschman did over the summer, and it’s a testament to his recent tear that it’s even a topic worth considering. What’s more important than any hardware is that he is and continues to prove he’s capable of functioning as a well-rounded, face-of-the-franchise-caliber tailback.

Rutschman has mostly ticked those boxes lately. At the plate, he showed a keen eye and feel for making contact, often of the line-drive variety. Rutschman has struggled as a right-handed hitter (his OPS from the left side is .952, as opposed to .498 from the right side), and his power numbers aren’t quite where you’d expect them to get their upside. brute force It should be noted that both of those looks could be a byproduct of a small sample size: for example, he’s made fewer than 100 plate appearances against lefties thus far. Still, it’s worth wondering if Camden’s remodeled left-field dimensions have anything to do with his relative power outage: his ISO on the road is 80 points higher than it is at home — again, in a small sample. Either way, we’re not too worried about those spots just yet.

Behind the plate, Rutschman left no question about his defense. He has always been viewed as a field general type who can manage a pitching staff. His catch-and-throw skills justified his hype. He ranks eighth in the majors in Framing Runs Added Above Average, putting him in company with the likes of Sean Murphy and Yasmani Grandal. Rutschman’s pop time to second base — meaning the time it takes for him to catch the ball, transfer it, and then throw it to the infielder manning the bag — ranks in the 88th percentile, according to Statcast. Most stolen bases are taken by the pitcher, not the catcher, and Rutschman seems more than capable of holding up his end of the bargain, as long as his pitcher gives him a chance.

Add it all up, and it’s reasonable to think this won’t be the last time Rutschman (or Rodríguez, for that matter) competes for an award.

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