2018 saw them finished dead last in the American League East for a second consecutive season. Not only was it a second-straight season finishing fifth in the division, but they finished with a MLB-worst 115 losses. This season has been anything but a hot start as Chris Davis finally ended an MLB-record 54 at-bat hitless streak. Simply put, it’s going to be a long season for the Orioles. While last season’s late trade acquisition Jonathan Villar has been a bright spot, no other player has made a bigger impact than Trey Mancini. Coming off a solid 2017 rookie season that saw him slash .293/.338/.488 with 24 home runs and 78 RBI, the former Notre Dame standout had a sophomore season that saw pitchers make adjustments each at-bat causing a dip in Mancini’s average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. However, he did finish posting a second-straight season with 24 home runs. This season, Mancini has gotten off to one of the hottest starts in baseball, and has been a phenomenal mid-to-late round draft pick. or early waiver wire acquisition. This week, I want to breakdown Mancini’s adjustments, and success, in “That’s Amore!” Trey Mancini: The Brightest Oriole Out There.
Early on, Mancini has been a solid source of production from a multi-eligibility (OF-1B) player. Entering Sunday, Mancini has six home runs (T-4th), 12 RBI (T-9th), .373 ISO (12th), .339 average (T-20th), and .451 wOBA (14th). His splits have been equally impressive slashing .300/.333/.700 and .359/.422/.718 against lefties and righties respectively. One split I’d like to see him improve on are his home/away splits. There’s no question Camden Yards is a hitter friendly ballpark, yet Mancini is slashing .259/.355/.630 at home and .406/.429/.781 on the road. He’s at nearly the same amount of at-bats (27/32) at home as he has away. One thing that is a bit head-scratching is the fact that in 2017 he hit better on the road than at home, but the opposite in 2018.
Looking at Mancini’s three-year stat line, one thing that immediately sticks out is the increase in strikeouts, and K%, from 2017-2018. This is something I’m not surprised at as pitchers had a better scouting report on Mancini and were able to pitch each at-bat into their favor. Add in his tendencies, and it’s easy to see why pitchers tend to have an upper-hand in a player’s second season. This season, I like the fact that not only is Mancini sitting a career-low in K% (22.1%), but his 9.1 BB% is a career-high. While he’s still had a tendency of getting behind in the count, he still manages to be successful in counts favoring pitchers.
Another adjustment I’ve liked from Mancini is his GB%. 2018 saw an increase in overall ground ball percentage by 3.6%, but this season that rate has declined 7.9%. A player like Mancini, that offers little speed, needs to do his best to keep the ball off the ground. Power is his modus operandi, and hitting ground balls is a no-no for such a hitter. Looking at his batted ball types, his Soft% has decreased 2.5% (17.8% is a career-best), his Med% has increased 0.6% (46.7% is also a career-best), and his Hard% has increased 2.0% (again, a career-best at 35.6%). He’s simply made solid contact, and he’s not getting cheated when he makes contact. One thing that does concern me is his Pull% and Oppo%. His Pull% is at a career-high 48.9% while his Oppo% is a career-low 15.6%. As pitchers adjust, and pitchers become sharper, Mancini will absolutely need to use the entire ballpark if he wants to see this production last throughout the season. Again, the Orioles are one of the worst baseball teams in MLB, and there will be many times when he comes up to bat with no one on base.
Finally, some of the most significant adjustments, that’s led to Mancini’s rebound, are in his overall O-Swing%, O-Contact%, F-Strike%, and SwStr%. Mancini has decreased his swings at pitches outside the zone and increased his contact percentage on swings at pitches outside the zone. A lot of this plays into Mancini’s overall development at the plate. His plate discipline has gotten better, and his overall understanding of pitch count has grown. This has led to the decrease of 1.9% in SwStr%. Looking deeper, one stat I love to see a decrease in his first pitch strike percentage. Last season, nearly 62% of his at-bats started with a strike, and this season he’s seen a dramatic decrease to 56.1%. It’s tough being successful when pitchers get ahead early, and Mancini’s done a great job of lowering this percentage.
Overall, Mancini has made a rebound since a dip in his 2018 numbers after a stellar rookie season. Again, I’d love to see his numbers increase at home, as well as his opposite-field usage. I do believe, over time, he’ll start using the opposite field more, and if he doesn’t he will most certainly hit a rough patch. Seeing how often he pulls the ball, pitchers will be more inclined to pitch him more off the plate as well as on the outside part of the plate. It will be up to him not only to lay off pitches off the plate, but be willing to shoot balls to right field. Still, Mancini’s hot start has been great for fantasy owners, and he’s undoubtedly one of the best mid-to-late round picks and waiver wire additions in the early going of the 2019 season.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday April 7th, 2019 from 8pm-9:30pm EST for episode #150 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. We will discuss spot starters for the coming week, plus a weekend update, and look ahead to next week.
Our guest this week is Bryan Luhrs. Bryan has been a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com for 6 years, and is the owner of Real Deal Dynasty Sports.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday April 14th, 2019 from 8pm-9:30pm EST for episode #151 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. We will discuss spot starters for the coming week, plus a weekend update, and look ahead to next week.
Our guest this week is Kevin Bzdek. Kevin is a writer, editor, and league mate at majorleaguefantasysports.com.
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