BY L.E. MILLER, @LEMillerBMore
National media. I have a great storyline for you.
Great underdog story. Unranked prospect putting team on back. .321/.366/.589. On pace for just over 30 homers as a rookie.
It would seem that there is only room for discussion about two rookies at a time in the national media: Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger. It's understandable why they are the buzz of baseball with their record breaking pace, big markets, and Judge's infectious personality; but in a world of blogs, Twitter, and a 24/7 baseball channel on cable, surely there is room for arguably the third-best offensive rookie in baseball, right?
Where Judge and Bellinger have been Top 100 prospects nationally for the last two-to-three years, and Bellinger cracking Top 20s and Top 10s lists before this season, Mancini was barely cracking the top five in the Orioles system – Forget cracking a national Top 100. He may have not even cracked a 150 or 200
Even after he hit .341/.375/.563 in 136 games in 2015 across A+ and AA, even after he jumped all the way to AAA in 2016 and slashed .280/.349/.427 after being in A+ just a year before. It wasn't until his attention grabbing cup-of coffee at the end of 2016 – .357/.400/1.071 with three homers in 14 AB – that anyone took notice. At the end of last year, he finally got some national buzz.
And then everyone promptly forgot about him when hotter stories came along.
If you search for news stories about Trey Mancini on Google, most of the results that come up from national outlets are simple fantasy sports information. Washington Post did a piece about him, but that's a paper that used to have an Orioles beat. Basically outside of the Baltimore Sun and Orioles blogs he has gone largely unnoticed despite being on pace to be the second best rookie in the AL. In a year without Aaron Judge, he would possibly be the favorite to win the award.
Just this past week Fangraphs finally took its first serious look at Trey Mancini this season, where Ben Kaspick did an exercise where he blindly compared Trey Mancini to Cody Bellinger. The results were favorable for Mancini, but the analysis was from a fantasy baseball perspective.
I'm not suggesting that Trey Mancini deserves more coverage than Judge or Bellinger. Or even equal. Or half. But it would seem some coverage would seem appropriate.
Mancini has gotten hotter as the season goes. Check this comparison for June:
Mancini: .370/.414/.691, 190 wRC+
Judge: .329/ .447 / .719, 202 wRC+
Bellinger: .289/.355/ .783, 180 wRC+
Judge is still out front, but Mancini has had an incredible June.
This is an Orioles blog, but allow me to take this out of homer-city for a moment. Trey “Boom Boom” Mancini isn't the only other standout rookie in the AL this year. Up in the Pacific Northwest Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger have been one hell of a duo for a Seattle team that has lingered in Wild Card contention on its offense for a change as it waits to get a potentially potent rotation back to health. Also, speaking of the rotation, another rookie, 27-year-old Sam Gaviglio, has been a huge crutch for that team.
Seriously: King Felix, Paxton, Iwakuma, Miranda are plenty to get this team into the playoffs if they keep hitting.
Mancini is individually better than Gamel, Haniger, and certainly Gaviglio in my opinion. Gamel/Haniger both have absurd BABIP. They are good, but not quite this good. Gaviglio's peripheral stats are terrible. Regardless, they ARE performing and together in a trio are a compelling story. You have a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2001 suffer just a ton of injuries...and these guys show up huge and keep the team right in the thick of things. If you're looking objective it's probably even a better story than Mancini.
They have gotten more coverage than Mancini, but really still not that much.
Maybe people don't think Mancini or the Mariners' trio are for real...but if that's the case give me an article about why they aren't going to last. Tell me why they are smoke in mirrors.
There's over 50 people on the All-Star rosters each year. The national baseball dialog has room for more than two rookies. Especially when they've earned it.