Adley Rutschman’s Fantasy Impact in Baltimore

The day has finally come, Adley Rutschman is here! The first overall pick in the 2019 draft is one of the most exciting prospects we’ve seen in a time of a lot of exciting prospects. His arrival from him brings a lot of intrigue to fantasy managers as to what kind of impact he will have on fantasy baseball.

Being a catcher already makes him interesting, adding to the weakest position in the game. But on top of being a catcher, he adds an exciting bat to the Baltimore Orioles lineup, full of more fantasy-relevant players than you might think for a team with a 196-395 record since 2018.

So, can Rutschman’s arrival have an impact on the rest of his team?

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Adley’s Transition To The Big Leagues

Before diving into the rest of the Orioles, let’s take a look at Rutschman himself. Making the transition from minors to majors is no simple task, no matter who you are. However, he’s the #1 prospect in the game for a reason, and his performance in the minors is encouraging for a smooth transition.

His plate discipline sticks out the most. He had a .391 OBP across the minors with 110 walks and 124 strikeouts. He also had 30 HRs in 179 games. As a switch hitter, he wo n’t be as affected by the new LF wall in Camden Yards as others, but the power will come as he continues to grow and enter his physical prime from him (only 24-years-old). His MLB.com scouting report gives him a 60 hit and 65 power score on the 20-80 scale, great for anybody and even greater for a catcher.

Impact on the Orioles’ Offense

Even if you don’t have Rutchsman on a roster, you may feel the benefits of his presence in the Baltimore lineup. As mentioned before, there are more fantasy-relevant players on this team than you’d think considering how bad they have been. The Orioles’ offense hasn’t been firing on all cylinders so far in 2022, ranking 26th in baseball in total runs scored. Certain guys like Cedric Mullins have underperformed, and some guys were just never going to be an impact offensive player.

The biggest culprit is, you guessed it, the catcher position. Robinson Chirinos and Anthony Bemboom have played the most games behind the plate for Baltimore this season, and they have not been anything close to good. Even with offense down across the league, Chirinos’s wRC+ is currently 49 (100 being league average). Bemboom managed to have him beat with a 24 wRC+, which even for a catcher can’t be much worse. From this point of view, Rutschman simply needs to be a league-average hitter to have a positive impact on this lineup. We hope for more, but it’s good to have context at the boost the Orioles are getting here. It’s still early, but Rutschman has been hitting sixth for the most part. Given that, I’m going to look at the guys hitting right around him and see if Rutschman’s addition changes a lot for them.

Ryan Mountcastle

Mountcastle has been mostly hitting in the 5-hole this season, making him one of the top potential benefactors of Adley Rutschman’s success. He’s been up and down so far this season, but I think the best is yet to come. His expected stats from him FAR outweigh his actual stats in 2022, suggesting a positive regression regardless of Rutschman. There is a 62-point difference between his batting average and XBA (.250 vs. .312), a 177-point difference in Slugging (.375 SLG vs. .552 XSLG), and an 85-point difference in WOBA (.288 WOBA vs. .373 XWOBA). Those are some really good expected stats, and his 89th percentile barrel % backs up that he is making hard contact and the hits and home runs will come. Throw the #1 prospect in baseball behind him and maybe the runs will come too.

Cedric Mullins

Mullins is someone who can use some Adley Rutschman effect right about now. He hasn’t lived up to his 2021 breakout season, and his underlying stats of him do n’t suggest a turnaround like Mountcastle.

2021 2022
WOBA .372 .299
XWOBA .344 .313
BA .291 .241
XBA .272 .247
Hard Hit % 39.4 36.3

He’s also served as the primary lead-off hitter and (assuming he stays there) is still 2-3 below-average players apart from Rutschman in the lineup.

austin hays

If there’s an argument that Adley Rutschman’s presence influences others, look to Austin Hays. Since Rutschman’s debut, Hays has a .355 average and .923 OPS in eight games. Hays has been heating up throughout May and would become a real fantasy asset if he runs and his RBI total gets even a slight boost. The timing is really great to be adding some more juice into the lineup, and the 26-year-old is looking ready to break out right as things start to get more interesting for Baltimore. Hays has been a high-energy guy, and having more energy in the lineup is going to help him as much as anybody.

Overall, Rutschman should be able to keep the line moving much better than previous catchers, adding runs and RBI to pretty much everyone in the lineup. I could see him moving up higher than 6 in the order at some point, so the impact on a specific player can vary. The other thing to consider is just the genuine excitement he brings. Baseball is a long season, especially for a team like the Orioles. A guy like Rutschman signals a brighter future ahead, and he could very well be joined by somebody like SP Grayson Rodriguez this season as well. This buzz can bring in more fans and excitement to the team overall. While it’s hard to quantify and bet on, that buzz can rub off on the other players and lead to better results on the field. Regardless, this is an exciting time in Baltimore. For the first time in a while, they seem to be trending upward!

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