A look at Cedric Mullins' offensive downfall

a look at cedric mullins' offensive downfall

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins.

In 2021, Cedric Mullins was a star player on an absolutely terrible team. The Baltimore Orioles lost an astounding 110 games that season, yet Mullins was a legitimate All-Star, a Silver Slugger award winner and finished ninth in the MVP voting. At 26 years old, it looked like Mullins was going to be a star for years to come and a centerpiece around which the Orioles could build.

This season, the Orioles are arguably the best team in the American League, after having the best record in the league in 2023. You'd think Mullins would be at the forefront of that success, piling up accolades as the team marches toward the playoffs again. Alas, that isn't the case.

On a team filled with terrific offensive players like Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Colton Cowser and Jordan Westburg, Mullins has faded into the background. The Orioles also have above average complimentary players like Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander. Unfortunately, Mullins isn't even one of these players right now.

Mullins' offensive numbers have been trending downward since that pinnacle 2021 season. His slash that year was an impressive .291/.360/.518/.878. He had 30 home runs, 37 doubles and 30 stolen bases for that awful team. His numbers have slipped ever since.

This season has been a nightmare for Mullins. His slash is .183/.234/.349 for an OPS of .583. That OPS number is way off the .878 he posted in 2021. He does have six homers and six stolen bases, but only one homer since April 17. It is has gotten so bad that Mullins has been betting eighth or ninth in the batting order.

Yes, there has been some bad luck involved as he only has a .198 Batting Average on Balls in Play. The league average is around .300. Some of this is caused by a very high fly ball rate (47.8 percent) and a very low line drive rate (14.1 percent). Basically, he is making a whole lot of lazy outs in the air.

His strikeout rate is the highest it's ever been in his career (26.1 percent) and his walk rate is the lowest it's been since the COVID-shortened 2020 season (5.8). Those aren't promising trends for his downward- spiraling career.

It's looking more and more like 2021 was a career year rather than a harbinger of things to come. His BABIP will likely improve as this season progresses as the luck part of the batted balls will start to even out somewhat, and that will bring his average up as well. That said, there isn't anything in this season's stats, or in those of the past two seasons, that indicate Mullins will ever return to being the overall hitter he was in 2021.

He only had 115 total games in the three seasons prior to 2021 and there wasn't much there to predict a breakout season, which is further indication that Mullins is a decent player that had one incredible season that may have skewed expectations.

At 29 years old, he is at the end of his prime. Few players turn their career around and improve significantly heading into their thirties. He can still be a serviceable veteran piece on an outstanding team, and that will probably be how he adds value to this Orioles juggernaut at this point.

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