The Orioles announced Monday that catcher ADLEY RUTSCHMAN has been voted the winner of the 2022 Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award by members of the local media who cover the team on a regular basis. He will be recognized for his accomplishments in an on-field ceremony prior to tonight’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Rutschman becomes the third rookie to be named the winner of the award since its inception in 1954, joining right-handed pitchers GREGG OLSON in 1989 and RODRIGO LÓPEZ in 2002. He is just the third catcher to be named Most Valuable Oriole, along with GUS TRIANDOS in 1958 and CHRIS HOILES in 1993.
Rutschman enters play today slashing .254/.361/.448 (100-for-393) with 35 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 70 runs scored, 42 RBI, 63 walks, 176 total bases, and an .809 OPS in 111 games. His 35 doubles are the most by an Orioles rookie in a single season in franchise history (since 1954), surpassing the mark of 32 set by Orioles Legend and Hall of Famer CAL RIPKEN, JR. in 1982. Rutschman’s 35 doubles are also the most in a single season by a primary O’s catcher, ahead of JAVY LÓPEZ with 33 in 2004. He is the second O’s rookie with at least 10 home runs and 30 doubles in a season, along with Ripken. His 63 walks are currently the fourth-most by an Orioles rookie, trailing CURT BLEFARY (88, 1965), RON HANSEN (69, 1960), and JIM GENTILE (68, 1960); Blefary, Hansen, and Gentile each appeared in at least 138 games.
He leads the Orioles and Major League Baseball (MLB) rookies in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) with 5.1, which ranks ninth among all American League (AL) hitters. That is currently the third-best fWAR by a rookie catcher in MLB history, trailing only Los Angeles-NL’s Mike Piazza (7.4, 1993) and Boston’s Carlton Fisk (6.6, 1972), and the second-best by an O’s rookie in franchise history, trailing BOBBY GRICH (5.4, 1972). Rutschman also leads the Orioles in doubles and walks, ranks third in runs scored, fifth in extra-base hits (49), and sixth in total bases. Among Orioles batters with at least 400 plate appearances, he leads the team in on-base percentage and OPS and ranks second in slugging percentage.
Rutschman leads AL rookies in doubles, ranks second in walks, third in extra-base hits, fifth in runs scored, sixth in home runs, seventh in total bases, tied for seventh in hits, and eighth in RBI. Among AL rookies with at least 400 plate appearances, he ranks second in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS.
The 24-year-old backstop has appeared in 91 games behind the plate, making 82 starts. His 17 defensive runs saved lead the O’s and are the second-most by a catcher in the majors, according to Sports Info Solutions. He has thrown out eight of 33 runners attempting to steal, and his 1.93-second average pop time on steal attempts of second base is tied for sixth in the AL and 10th in MLB among catchers with at least 10 throws, according to Statcast.
Rutschman had his contract selected from Triple-A Norfolk on May 21 and made his Major League debut that night against the Tampa Bay Rays, starting at catcher and batting sixth. He tripled in the seventh inning for his first career hit, becoming the ninth Oriole to triple as their first career hit and first since RYAN McKENNA on April 11, 2021, against Boston. He became the first Orioles catcher to do so since MATT WIETERS on May 30, 2009, against Detroit. Entering the 2022 season, Rutschman was the consensus top prospect in baseball, earning the No. 1 overall ranking from The Athletic, Baseball America, ESPN, FanGraphs, and MLB Pipeline. Last season, he was named the Orioles Brooks Robinson Minor League Co-Player of the Year and represented the Orioles at the 2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field in Colorado.
The Most Valuable Oriole Award is named in honor of the late LOU HATTER, a former sportswriter for The Baltimore Sun who covered the Orioles for 27 years. Balloting for the Most Valuable Oriole Award was conducted last month with voting on a 5-3-1 basis. Also receiving votes were FÉLIX BAUTISTA, AUSTIN HAYS, JORDAN LYLES, JORGE MATEO, RYAN MOUNTCASTLE, CEDRIC MULLINS, ROUGNED ODOR, and ANTHONY SANTANDER.