Orioles Fan Favorite: Trey Mancini

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Ever since he stepped on the field for his Major League debut in September of 2016, Trey Mancini has been adored by Orioles fans. In the shadows of former Oriole favorites Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Nick Markakis, Mancini has been the most recognizable name on a Baltimore club that has seen so much year-to-year turnover in each of the last three seasons.

Hot Start

Two days after being promoted as a September call-up, Orioles manager Buck Showalter inserted Mancini into the starting lineup as a DH. His debut was one to remember, as, in just his second career at-bat, Mancini launched a home run to left field at Camden Yards, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Two nights later, in his second career start, Mancini would repeat the feat as he homered again. In fact, three of his first four career hits were home runs.

The prospect out of Notre Dame would end up appearing in five games in 2016, posting a line of .357/.400/1.071 to go along with the 3 homers and 5 RBIs, showing a glimpse of what was to come over the next few years

Mancini kept this rhythm going throughout his rookie year. Splitting his time between designated hitter, first base, and both corner outfield positions, “Boomer” slugged 24 home runs, drove in 78 runs, and slashed .293/.338/.488. This was good enough to land him a third-place finish in the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year race, as well as cementing his place in the Orioles’ future.

Model of Consistency

Through his first four seasons as a major leaguer, Mancini was never placed on the injured list. From 2017 to 2019, he appeared in 457 of 486 possible games, only taking days off for scheduled rest and minor ailments. In this span of time, Mancini hit 83 home runs with 233 RBIs and a slash line of .275/.334/.480 leading to a 117 OPS+.

This ability to show up to the ballpark every day and produce did not go unnoticed by those in Baltimore, as in 2019, Mancini was voted “Most Valuable Oriole”. Day in and day out, Mancini was able to be counted on by both fans and the organization to go out and do his job and do it well.

Cancer Battle

On March 7, 2020, the Orioles announced that Mancini would be leaving Spring Training to undergo a non-baseball-related procedure. From top to bottom, the organization expressed their gratitude and asked for well-wishes to be sent his way. In the days and weeks that followed, it would be learned that Mancini had been diagnosed with stage III colon cancer. His chemotherapy regimen would last the majority of the summer, removing any slim chance that Mancini would be able to return for the COVID-shortened season.

For the first time in his career, Mancini was placed on the injured list.

Triumphant Return

In mid-September 2020, roughly five months after starting treatment, Trey Mancini completed chemotherapy and was declared cancer-free. His sights were immediately set on not just returning to the field, but returning to an All-Star caliber level. After being activated from the 60-day IL on November 1, it became clear that Mancini’s comeback season would begin in Sarasota, FL; the same place where his life had changed a year prior.

February 28, 2021, was the day. After a few weeks of organized team workouts and intra-squad scrimmages, the Orioles were set to host the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opening game of their Spring Training slate. Shortly before first pitch, the lineups were released and Trey Mancini was listed as the starting first baseman, batting second.

As he walked to the plate, Mancini was greeted with a standing ovation from both dugouts, as well as all fans in attendance.

In his first plate appearance after roughly a year away from the sport, Mancini ripped a single up the middle past Pirates starter, Chad Kuhl. He was officially back.

2021 and Beyond

Mancini’s 2021 season was not at the same level as his 2019 season, but it didn’t have to be. After going through the toughest year of his life, Trey Mancini was able to play in 147 games, the same number as his rookie year. A line of .255/.326/.432 with 21 home runs, 71 RBIs, and a 104 OPS+ is average for a major leaguer, but remarkable for someone in Mancini’s situation.

His journey gained even more attention after MLB invited Mancini to participate in the 2021 Home Run Derby at Coors Field in Colorado, elevating him from a team favorite, to a national favorite. Mancini would finish runner-up to two-time champion Pete Alonso, but his story inspired all who watched, proving that anything can be overcome.

Mancini is set to be a free agent after the 2022 season. The rebuilding Orioles may look to trade the 29-year-old during the season in return for younger prospects, as they are still projected to be outside their window of contention. If this is Mancini’s final ride in Baltimore, it has been one in which he has embodied excellence in every aspect of the game and life, making him a true fan favorite.

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main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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