The Baltimore Orioles are in the midst of a major rebuild.
The organization hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016, and 100-loss seasons have become the norm in recent years.
That’s always a tough place for a franchise to be, and it’s equally frustrating for fans.
But there are brighter days ahead.
Although the Orioles went 52-110 in 2021, there were some very positive developments along the way.
Several young players emerged as rising stars for Baltimore.
But there’s another youngster who’s on a great trajectory for the Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle.
MLB fans should buy stock in this guy before it’s too late.
Mountcastle Has Already Accomplished Something That Few Others Have
The 2021 season was Mountcastle’s rookie campaign, but it was his second year at the MLB level.
That’s because he played in 2020 but didn’t exceed rookie limits.
He wound up playing in 35 games in the 2020 campaign, and the results were outstanding.
After hitting his first career homer earlier today, Ryan Mountcastle went back for seconds. pic.twitter.com/nGMMvxRC3f
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 30, 2020
He batted .333 with an OPS of .878 and OPS+ of 137.
But again: He didn’t exceed rookie limits.
That didn’t stop him from receiving votes in the Rookie of the Year race, however.
He finished eighth in the race in 2020.
In 2021, he DID exceed rookie limits, making it his official rookie season.
He appeared in 144 games and posted some great numbers (which we’ll talk about in a minute).
As a result of his impressive 2021 season, he earned Rookie of the Year votes once again.
Pretty rare feat to receive Rookie of the Year votes in two different seasons, but he was certainly deserving both times.
He finished sixth in the race this time around.
Mountcastle’s 2021 Season In Review
With the 2021 season behind us, it’s a good time to look at everything Mountcastle accomplished over his first full season at the MLB level.
As mentioned, he appeared in 144 games, and he made the most of them.
He smacked 33 homers, 23 doubles, and a triple.
— SLIDIN’ DIRTY ⚾️ (@slidndirty) August 24, 2021
He also drove in 89 runs.
The 29-year-old finished the year with an OPS of .796 and OPS+ of 112.
Now, those are above-average numbers, but they could have been even better.
The next step for Mountcastle is to find a way to reach base consistently.
He’s obviously a great power hitter — he slugged .487 this past season — but he reached base at just a .309 clip.
That’s a below-average mark.
If this guy can find a way to reach base AND hit for power, it’ll be very hard for the league to slow him down.
The biggest key for him to increase his on-base percentage is simple: walk more.
Just 7.0 percent of Mountcastle’s plate appearances in 2021 ended with a walk.
For context, the MLB average was 8.7 percent.
That might not seem like a huge gap, but it makes a drastic difference in a player’s on-base percentage.
Mountcastle’s ability to draw walks going forward could easily be the difference between him being a one-dimensional offensive player versus a superstar at the plate.
Plate presence often comes with experience, so in due time, he could be much improved in this department.