By Ryan Decker
The 25-year-old outfielder has been a great spark ever since making his debut last season, a game in which he promptly homered in his second career at bat.
In 27 games at the major league level, Mancini has hit for a .306 average, and has fit in nicely with the rest of the power-hitting Orioles lineup, clubbing 10 home runs and driving in 25 runs from the plate.
Albeit it’s a relatively small sample size, but with the potential that he’s already displayed in his limited opportunities, Mancini has shown he’s going to be a very important part of the Orioles future.
While he’s quickly becoming part of the O’s present and future, he’s already rewriting the history books.
Mancini’s first-inning home run Monday night against the Nationals broke a tie between he and Curt Blefary for the most extra-base hits during a player’s first 26 games of his career in Orioles history.
His 15 extra-base hits to begin his career is four more than Machado, five more than Jonathan Schoop and six more than the great Eddie Murray hit to begin their careers with the O’s.
Not only is he the fastest Baltimore player to 10 home runs, but his power numbers are off to one of the best starts in MLB history.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, only George Scott and Gary Sanchez (11 each) have hit more home runs in their first 26 career games than Macnini.
Mancini’s power is well suited based not only on the team he plays on, but also based on the stadium he plays in. Oriole Park at Camden Yards boasts Major League Baseball’s highest home run per game numbers (2.40 HR/gm) in a stadium’s first 2000 games in MLB history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Why does all of this mean Mancini is a reason that the Orioles should re-sign Machado? you may be wondering.
This is why:
The Baltimore Orioles have been in limbo between being a true contender and being a pretender for the last five years or so. During that time, the O’s have made the playoffs three times.
Since winning the division in 2014, the AL East has improved greatly.
The Boston Red Sox have built a great offense and have pieced together what should be one of the best rotations in baseball when healthy. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees appear to be poised to have another decade of dominance.
This means that the Orioles’ window for possibly winning the World Series is closing. However, the window stays propped open if Baltimore can convince Machado, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018 season, to remain in the Charm City.
Money aside, Machado won’t stay if he doesn’t believe the Orioles can compete for a championship.
Some of the pieces to do so are in place. Chris Davis is under contract long term; Mark Trumbo is signed on for two more years after this; young pitchers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, and Schoop, all aren’t due to receive extensions until the 2020 offseason at the earliest.
Mancini is under team control through 2019, and won’t become a free agent until the offseason following the 2022 campaign.
All those other players mentioned have been with the team for at least a full year, most more than that.
Mancini on the other hand is still relatively new. What he provides, though, is a productive bat that can fit in just about anywhere in the order. And he’ll be providing that productive bat throughout most of the prime of his career at a fraction of the cost.
That money saved can be used to pay part of Machado’s long-term deal, that some are projecting will be nearing $400M.
It’s no secret that starting pitching has been the main area that the Orioles have needed to improve in for some time. Pitching is what will make or break this team, not only this year, but for years to come.
Mancini’s bat, though, looks to be a young bat in Buck Showalter’s lineup that he can use to alleviate some of the pressure from his pitching staff.
More importantly, if Mancini can continue the hot start to his career and carry that production down the road, he may be a big part what convinces Machado to ink a long-term deal with the O’s.