Adley Rutschman has been one of the early standouts of the 2023 MLB season, entering play on Thursday with a scorching .391/.491/.609 slash line with three homers and eight RBI in 12 games — all while playing excellent defense behind the plate.
And if that all weren’t enough for last year’s runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year, he added another line to the resume in the Baltimore Orioles’ win over the Oakland Athletics: his first career walk-off homer.
ADLEY RUTSCHMAN WALK-OFF HOMER! pic.twitter.com/rVREm8FBtv— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 13, 2023
It was Rutschman’s only hit on the day, but it came at the perfect time.
It’s been a meteoric ascent for the Oregon State product ever since the Orioles took him first overall in the 2019 MLB Draft. The pandemic delayed his ascent somewhat, but after tearing up the Minors in 2021, he hit the ground running in Baltimore last season with an .806 OPS (128 OPS+), nearly as many walks as strikeouts and a veteran presence beyond his years.
At this rate, with the Orioles looking very much like AL Wild Card (if not AL East) contenders, it’s not crazy to start speculating about the catcher’s chances at winning AL MVP honors. Unlike most catchers, he’ll get enough at-bats to put up the counting stats that voters look for, and he’s clearly the driving force behind a team that will have the “return to the postseason after years in the doldrums” narrative behind it.