Can one player change a baseball team?
The answer to that question is mostly no, but for one particular team, it’s safe to say yes. That team is the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball (MLB), and the player who changed them was catcher Adley Rutchman, 25.
Lurchman made his debut one year ago today, on May 21, 2022, local time. Lurchman got his first hit in his debut game, a triple. The only other Baltimore rookies whose first hit was a triple were Matt Wieters and Manny Machado.
It was a big deal, especially since Wieters was a legendary Baltimore catcher who won two Gold Gloves and was a four-time All-Star. The expectation that Lurchman could follow in Wieters’ footsteps came from the opening day.
After going 16-24 with a .400 winning percentage prior to Lutzman’s arrival, Baltimore jumped to 67-55 with a .549 winning percentage. And this season, the Orioles are 31-16 with a .660 winning percentage, good for second overall in both the American League (AL) and National League (NL). In other words, a team that spent years in the bottom half of the standings, including 110 losses in 2021, has gone from 98-71 with a .580 winning percentage since Lutzman’s arrival to a completely transformed team.
Drafted by Baltimore with the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, Rutman was seen as the future of the Orioles almost immediately upon his arrival: a specialist catcher who possessed both leadership and defense for his age, as well as a .281 career batting average and .877 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in the minors.
And since his big league debut, he’s been a steady performer, leading Baltimore’s high-flying offense. In 160 games and 680 at-bats a year ago, Lurchman is batting .259 with 147 hits (42 doubles), 20 home runs, and 67 RBIs for an OPS of .816.
His offense continues to improve this season, with a .271 batting average and .835 OPS. To date, Lurchman has accumulated a WAR (wins above replacement) of 6.8 (per FanGraphs). That’s nearly seven more wins for the team.
But the Roughmen’s real strength is not offense, but defense. From last year to this year, his DRS (a metric that shows how many runs he prevents) is a staggering 19. Considering Baltimore had been plagued by catching issues for years before Lurchman, this is a complete turnaround.
Baltimore has been blatantly tanking for years, trading away all of the team’s mainstays since 2018, including Machado, Zach Britton, Kevin Gausman, Jonathan Schoop, Jorge Lopez, and Trey Mancini. The organization has consistently stated that the tanking could end when the team’s 2019 first-round pick, Lurchman, is called up, and it’s finally coming to fruition this year.
Baltimore has faced tough teams in its last five series, going 10-6 during that stretch, including a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays. It will be interesting to see how far Baltimore’s run of dominance centered around the rushman can take them 토토사이트.