No Oriole had a better month of June than Mullins.
Forget American League outfielders, who fans were often comparing him to as All-Star voting came to a close last month, Mullins was one of MLB’s best players regardless of league and position in June.
Mullins’ 2.1 fWAR last month was first in baseball, beating out Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Carlos Correa, Shohei Ohtani, Kyle Schwarber and Fernando Tatis Jr. His 1.194 OPS was third behind only Ohtani and Guerrero Jr., and his 37 hits were also third league wide.
Mullins closed out the month on a 23-game stretch where he amassed 1.9 fWAR and slashed .388/.454/.765 with eight home runs.
Seeing Mullins in this type of company halfway through the season is incredible. His story and journey is incredible. He’s literally become one of the best players in baseball not even two seasons after being demoted twice down to Double-A with his future in the organization in jeopardy. He can be an All-Star starter in our minds.
After a couple of rough months to open 2021, Mountcastle was one of MLB’s best rookies in June. The 24-year-old led all rookies last month in hits (33), home runs (9) and RBI (26). Among rookies with at least 60 at bats, he was second in average (.327), fourth in OBP (.382) and tied for first in SLG (.634).
From the end of May to the end of June, Mountcastle raised his average from .226 to .263 and his OPS from .628 to .770.
One of the most surprising Mountcastle stats from 2020 was his 7.9% walk rate, which was much higher than it had been throughout his minor league career, so there was rightfully some cause for concern it could decline in 2021. Through April and May, it did just that. His 4.2% and 3.3% rates in the first two months of 2021 were much more in line with his minor league numbers. But in June, Mountcastle walked at a 7.3% rate, much closer to his 2020 number. Walks were one of the aspects of Mountcastle’s game that was missing and prevented him from reaching elite hitter status, so hopefully his June plate disciple success carries through to the rest of the season.
Diving more into what led Mountcastle’s June, the rookie found success with lifting and pulling the ball more frequently. His ground ball rate dropped from 42% in May to 32% in June, while his fly ball rate rose from 28% to 43%. Mix more fly balls with a rise in hard hit rate (28% in May to 36% in June), and you get more home runs and extra base hits. Simple math.
Becoming even more of a pull hitter rarely equates to success, but Mountcastle seems to be the exception to the rule.
The rookie reliever was absolutely lights out in June. Of his 11 appearances, he allowed no runs in 10 of them. In 14.1 innings, he struck out 18 of the 51 batters he faced and walked none. Opponents slashed .176/.176/.235 against him.
Among rookie relievers with at least 30 innings pitched on the season, Wells ranks second in K-BB% (26.1%), third in strikeouts (45) and fourth in WHIP (1.01).
His only bad outing of the month came in his blown save on the 19th in relief of Paul Fry who loaded the bases to start the 9th inning. So maybe he’s not ready to be a closer just yet, but he’s clearly getting more and more comfortable in high leverage situations.
Most of Tate’s season has been a somewhat disappointment as he aimed to build on his 2020 ERA of 3.24, but his month of June was promising moving forward.
In 17.1 June innings across 12 appearances, Tate pitched to a 2.60 ERA with 21 strikeouts. Opponents had a .180 average and .505 OPS against him.
Tate’s last two outings of the month were particularly encouraging. In two innings against Toronto and 2.1 against Houston, the 27-year-old faced 15 batters and struck out seven while issuing just one walk and allowing no hits or runs. In his two innings against the Blue Jays, Tate’s sinker, which usually sits around 95 miles per hour, reached as high as 99 mph.
Tate becoming a reliable option to go multiple innings would be extremely valuable for the O’s bullpen moving forward as the rotation continues to fail to go deep into games.
The good news for Santander in June was that it was his healthiest month yet. His 25 games played is his most since August 2020. The bad news is that even a relatively healthy month for Santander is still plagued by the lingering effects from his sprained ankle. He was used as the DH or a pinch hitter in 10 of his games last month and played with a visible hitch in his step that affected him both at the plate and in right field.
Santander also racked up 23 strikeouts to just seven walks in June. Brandon Hyde rules out another IL stint for the right fielder, so he’ll seemingly have to just power through the stretch before the All-Star break while allowing his ankle to heal, then hope he can start fresh after the break.
A flurry of moves came late last month when Freddy Galvis injured his quad. Stevie Wilkerson, who was slashing .167/.211/.208, was demoted and later DFA’d to make room for rested pitchers and Ramon Urias and Domingo Leyba were promoted from Triple-A.
This position is a Stock Down partly due to Galvis’ injury. His absence in the middle of both the defense and the lineup will be felt, and what was thought of as another trade chip has likely been taken off the table. As for what Galvis left behind, it isn’t pretty.
Pat Valaika’s struggles continue. He’s hitting just .192 with a 27.5% strikeout rate as the cries for Jahmai Jones grow louder. Urias, although hitting better than expected after his promotion, isn’t who anybody wants to see and the book is still out on Leyba. As a team, the Orioles have gotten the worst production from the second base position in nearly every category. The O’s rank last in fWAR, OPS and wRC+ from second baseman.
With Galvis sidelined, no middle infielder has done anything to set themselves apart. The position is the clear weak spot of the team.