It was always going to be an uphill climb. Now? It’s reality.
John Means did not become the first Oriole to win the AL Rookie of the Year award in 20 years.
The surprising ace finished second behind Yordan Alvarez in this year’s voting. The result is less of a surprise, as Alvarez utterly dominated opponents at the plate all year long. From the moment he was promoted in June, Alvarez was one of the best hitters in baseball.
By wRC+, an all-encompassing offensive metric, he was actually the second-best hitter in baseball behind only Mike Trout. And he owned the best OPS for a rookie in MLB history.
He accomplished all this while hitting in the middle of the most formidable lineup in baseball, a Houston unit that carried them to the American League pennant.
Alvarez didn’t enjoy the most prolific postseason of all-time, but he still pitched in with a few big hits against the Nationals in the World Series. His hot streak in the Fall Classic actually allowed him to lead the Astros in both batting average and OPS against the Nats.
For so many reasons, Alvarez earned his unanimous first-place finish. But don’t let that diminish Means’ year.
A non-prospect who was made the Orioles roster out of Spring Training, Means was the team’s lone All-Star representative this season. He held his own in the vaunted AL East, and was the clear-cut second-best rookie in the AL in 2019.
Means’ great season helped him receive 16 second-place votes, while no other candidate received more than six.
In a long, trying season, Means stood out as one of the most pleasant surprises for the Orioles in recent memory. The organization has long struggled to develop starting pitching, which has constantly placed them behind the 8-ball in their division. If the front office can unearth a few more hidden gems in the coming seasons, the rebuild may just work out after all.
Brandon Lowe of the Rays rounded out the top three finishers, while Eloy Jimenez finished fourth.
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