The 29-year-old missed the entire 2020 season due to a battle with colon cancer—a battle that he courageously won.
For Mancini, taking the field at all this season was an accomplishment.
Fans showed their appreciation on Opening Day, as you can see here:
— MLB (@MLB) April 8, 2021
But Mancini didn’t stop there.
Despite his setbacks, the University of Notre Dame product is proving to baseball fans that he is still a legitimate rising star in this league.
Picking Up Where He Left Off
Prior to this season, the last time we saw Mancini take the field was in 2019.
That year, he had an MVP-caliber offensive season, though he didn’t receive any votes due to a poor defensive WAR and also because Baltimore lost 108 games.
He batted .291 with an OPS of .899, an OPS+ of 136, 35 homers, 38 doubles, and two triples in 2019.
He drove in 97 runs and racked up an offensive WAR of 4.2.
He looked like a future star.
Needless to say, the cancer diagnosis changed everything, and his baseball career took a backseat.
Once he courageously beat the disease, no reasonable fan expected him to return to his elite production right away.
But Mancini has bounced back with a bang.
Let’s take a look at what he has accomplished this season.
His 2021 Season In A Nutshell
This year, Mancini is batting .258 with a .790 OPS, 115 OPS+, and 116 wRC+.
He has homered 19 times, doubled 25 times, and tripled once in 106 games.
He also put on a show in the 2021 Home Run Derby, making it all the way to the final round.
— Talking The Line Sports Media™️ (@TalkingTheLine) July 13, 2021
One of the most underrated parts of Mancini’s season has been his ability to stay on the field.
He has appeared in 106 of the Orioles’ 110 games this year.
It’s hard for anyone to stay healthy for that much of the season, let alone a player who just beat a life-threatening disease.
Needless to say, Mancini is the lock of the century to be named the 2021 Comeback Player of the Year.
His Future With Baltimore
Mancini is a player that the Orioles should want around for a very long time.
He’s at an age where he fits the timeline of the organization’s rebuild, and with some of the other talent that Baltimore has uncovered this season (i.e. John Means, Cedric Mullins), the Orioles could be contenders sooner than expected.
Here’s the thing: Mancini’s current contract is set to expire after the 2022 season.
Working on a new deal should be one of Baltimore’s top priorities this offseason.
Mancini is a homegrown talent that fans have grown extremely fond of, and it’s hard to think of a better guy the represent the team and city.
The Orioles need to make sure he doesn’t put on another uniform in 2023.
Mancini is a great fit in Baltimore.
He has given fans a reason to tune in this season, and with any luck, he will be part of a contending Orioles team in the near future.
It’s hard to imagine him playing elsewhere.
Time will tell how the upcoming years play out for Mancini and Baltimore.