HomeTeamsOriolesIs There A Place For Cedric Mullins In The Future?

Is There A Place For Cedric Mullins In The Future?

Cedric Mullins has been awful this season. There are no two ways about it. A player who was once seen as a cornerstone for the Orioles has now become one of the worst hitters in baseball. What has gone wrong for Mullins and is there still a place for him long-term in Baltimore?

Less than three years ago, Cedric Mullins was seen as an essential part of the future of the Baltimore Orioles. In his breakout 2021 campaign, Mullins played 159 games and had a slashline of .291/.360/.518 with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases, a 136 wRC+, and 6.0 fWAR. Defensively, he had 11 outs above average (OAA) in center field and had elite speed. He became the first Oriole to have a 30/30 season, was the starting center fielder for the AL in the All-Star Game and won a Silver Slugger award. Prior to the 2021 season, Mullins went from being a switch hitter to only hitting left-handed and made some adjustments at the plate. His groundball rate decreased by 4.5%, his flyball rate increased by 6.3%, and his HardHit% increased by 12.7%. He also lowered his outside zone swing rate and increased his contact%. All of these adjustments allowed Mullins to put together one of the best seasons by an Oriole this century and solidified him as a fan favorite. Sadly, this was the best version of Mullins the Orioles would get.

In 2022, Mullins didn’t quite match the season he had a year prior, but he was still excellent on an exciting Orioles team. He slashed .258/.318/.403 with 16 home runs, 34 stolen bases, a 108 wRC+, and 3.6 fWAR. However, there were signs pointing to regression. His whiff%, HardHit% and BB% all decreased and his barrel rate nearly halved. This regression continued into 2023 where his issues at the plate got even worse. Mullins had a 99 wRC+ and 1.9 fWAR as his contact rate went down significantly. He still had good defense with 6 OAA and good baserunning, but he did not get on base as often and wasn’t as productive with the bat.

That brings us to 2024. In 2023, Mullins was still a serviceable player with above average defense and an average bat with good baserunning, but much of that has completely disappeared in 2024. On the offensive side, he has regressed in nearly every single area. As of May 29th, his 2024 slashline is .188/.233/.331 with just 6 home runs and a total of 10 extra base hits. He has a 61 wRC+, which is 4th lowest in baseball among qualified hitters, his -0.1 fWAR is 17th lowest in baseball, and his .188 batting average and .233 on-base percentage are both 3rd worst among qualified hitters. His BB% (5.2%) is tied for his career low, his 26.0% strikeout percentage is by far the highest in his career and his hard hit % (22%) is the lowest it has been since 2020. His batted ball data doesn’t provide much relief either. His 41% pull rate is 5.8% lower than 2023 and a career low and his groundball rate is up by over 3%. He is swinging at more pitches outside of the zone while making a lot less contact (65.2% O-Zone contact rate in 2023 – 58.6% in 2024). As for his defense, it certainly isn’t bad as he has 1 OAA, but it is worse than it has been for most of his career.

Does Mullins have a role in the future plans for the Orioles? It’s tough to say. There are plenty of outfield prospects in the system already: Heston Kjerstad, Colton Cowser, and Kyle Stowers are all possible mainstays. Even if OF Anthony Santander leaves in free agency, there will still be players to fill his role, possibly leaving Mullins as the odd man out. However, there is a chance that Kjerstad or Stowers will be traded at the deadline for pitching help, which would likely give Mullins enough playing time to show whether or not he can produce for the team. There is also a world in which Mullins is traded at the deadline. For now, Mullins’ future in Baltimore isn’t looking too good and it remains to be seen if he can right the ship before it’s too late.


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