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First-Place O’s Carried by Ryan Mountcastle’s Resurgence

Ryan Mountcastle home run trot
photo: Baltimore Orioles (
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While the Orioles have been having a great season, the offense has been up and down. They rank well enough for a playoff team, but the issue has been consistency. They can have great nights, but they sometimes struggle scoring runs, as they did all weekend in Seattle. Anthony Santander and guys like Austin Hays have done their jobs for the most part, but they don’t have that true threat in the middle of the lineup. Their most consistent hitter has been, by far, Ryan O’Hearn, and look, he has done well for what he is, but he can’t be your best hitter in the heart of the order.

A lackluster middle of the order isn’t the only reason for the offensive struggles. Injuries have affected them as well. They just got Cedric Mullins back on Friday, but the one that has been missing for a while, not only on the field due to injury but also his lack of success, has been Ryan Mountcastle.

Mountcastle got off to a decent start in April. The stats weren’t eye-popping, but he did have six home runs and five doubles. The issue was that he didn’t do much outside of hitting for a decent amount of power. He had a bad on-base percentage at .252 and struck out 26 times.

This has always been the issue with Mounty. No matter how much you like the power, you can’t be striking out that much and not walking. When power is your only calling card, you open yourself to bad luck. Mounty had a ton of bad luck, and advanced numbers said he should have been a lot better over the past season-plus, but how long can you rely on the red dots on Baseball Savant to carry you?

This all came to a head after a bad May when was placed on the IL with vertigo. While he had solid home run production, it looked like Mounty had regressed at nearly everything else. He wasn’t walking; he was striking out way too much; and the power wasn’t enough to save him from the massive struggles he was undergoing.

He took most of June off and then rehabbed in Triple-A for a bit. His future with the Orioles seemed to be in limbo. This team needed a more consistent version of Mountcastle, but with his walk issues and strikeouts growing with no help from any kind of luck, how could this version help the Orioles? It is no wonder fans included him in so many trade proposals around this time, but how would Mounty respond to this?

We got our answer when he returned in July. He talked about how his stint with vertigo affected how much he could do and what he could see. This may be an explanation for the strikeouts, but now it was up to Mounty to change the narrative for his season.

How’s he done? Well, to put it shortly, amazing. In July, he hit .350/.386/.625 with an OPS of 1.011. He had five Doubles and two home runs. This was a much better version of Mounty in only fifteen games.

But we’ve seen Mounty have hot streaks before. While encouraging, could he sustain this hot return? Well, his August numbers are even better. Mounty is slashing .455/.548/.697 with two Doubles and two home runs. What really pops out is the massive jump in his on-base percentage. He is walking at an unprecedented rate. His eight walks this month are tops on the team. Yes, that is right, on a team with Adley Rutschman, Mountcastle leads the team in walks this month.

So why has Mounty been so good? Well, for starters, he is still smashing the ball. His slugging percentage ranks very high (over .600) since coming back. He is now making much more contact which can be seen in his higher average. His luck has improved as well, but making everything better is his massive improvement in plate discipline. He is laying off breaking pitches out of the zone, which have long been his kryptonite.

Players showing signs of slow but steady improvement has been a theme in this organization, especially in the minors. However, seeing it from an established player like Ryan Mountcastle, who has always struggled so much with plate discipline, is on a whole other level.

His resurgence has come at a perfect time as well. The Orioles lineup is in another slump, with Santander struggling and Hays having another second-half decline mixed in with some injuries. Gunnar Henderson is also struggling in August, so Ryan’s presence in this lineup is appreciated right now while they wait for Cedric Mullins to get healthy.

To see Ryan Mountcastle overcome his slow start and his fight with vertigo to become a huge contributor in the Orioles offense has been a great story. The Orioles will need all hands on deck if they are going to keep this division lead. That will need to include this consistency out of Mountcastle, while also getting Mullins back on his feet and hoping that other players start to pick it up.

The fanbase was been hard on Mountcastle throughout his struggles, so it is nice to see him bounce back, and hopefully, he can have more big moments as the season goes along because the Orioles need him now more than ever.

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