Key stat shows how absurdly rapid Adley Rutschman’s improvement has been

Adley Rutschman’s career with the Orioles is off to a fantastic start.

Adley Rutschman has been the story of the season for the Baltimore Orioles. The 24-year-old is defensively sound and good enough offensively to nearly crack the top-10 of active catchers in OPS this season.

Since his debut on May 21 this season, he’s accrued 60 hits and 23 RBI, and he’s also become a top-10 pitch framer according to Statcast. Orioles fans are already wondering what an extension should look like for the rookie catcher.

Adley Rutschman has clearly progressed offensively this season with Orioles

While catchers are often not necessarily known for their offensive prowess, Rutchman is clearly determined to hold his own in the batter’s box. Simple stats make the narrative clear. His batting average has progressed throughout the year:

  • May: .180
  • June:  .241
  • July: .274
  • August:  .275

His on-base percentage has drastically improved as well:

  • May: .273
  • June:  .294
  • July: .407
  • August:  .435

These simple stats are great and certainly show the improvement, but if you want to find just one stat to paint the picture of how much better he’s seeing things, consider his improvement in the percentage of pitches swung at outside the strike zone.

One Reddit user shared his 25-game rolling average of this stat via FanGraphs, which has plummeted throughout the year. His 25-game average as of late is far lower than his own yearly average of 23%.

Among all catchers with at least 100 plate appearances this season, Rutschman is just second in this plate discipline stat this year with the Dodgers’ Austin Barnes coming in ahead of him. Rutschman is 10.1% better than the league average of pitchers in that same sample.

It’s a huge reason why his OBP has skyrocketed in recent months, too. Already in August, he’s walked more than he did in July with more than 30 fewer plate appearances.

A rookie seeing pitches this well, this early in his career has to make Baltimore feel good about the direction they’re headed in, and the rate of improvement from the beginning of the season to now in picking up pitch location is even more useful. To jump from worse-than-average to near-best is no small feat for a first-year.

The AL East is stacked with talent, and the Orioles have some ground to make up, Rutschman is one big piece that can help make that happen.

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