Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo was ranked the No. 26 prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2016 season.
It’s taken awhile but Mateo has finally found an opportunity to play every day. And he’s thriving in the field. He’s the Sports Info Solutions Defensive Player of the Month for May.
Mateo’s 9 Defensive Runs Saved were the most of any player last month. No other player had more than 6 Runs Saved in May. Mateo is currently tied with Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino for the MLB lead with 10 Runs Saved.
We noted how Mateo’s story is one of opportunity. The opportunities in the field have come in abundance. Mateo leads the American League in putouts, assists, double plays turned, and range factor so far this season.
He’s been the best shortstop in the majors at getting outs on balls hit to his right. He’s converted 43 of 69, six plays better than an average infielder would have fared on the same set of balls.
That Mateo can play the position is of particular importance to the Orioles. Combining 2018 to 2021, the Orioles ranked 29th in Runs Saved at shortstop (-44). The team entered June ranked tied for 5th in Defensive Runs Saved overall.
“His athleticism, his range, his first-step quickness, the arm strength, the ability to throw the ball from all arm angles,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said, ticking off the list of Mateo’s attributes for us for an article on some of the new top defensive shortstops a few weeks ago. “He’s got great footwork, so he’s always in position to make a strong throw, which is why we’ve turned so many double plays this year.”
Two Guardians players – middle infielder Andrés Giménez and center fielder Myles Straw – were the runners-up for Defensive Player of the Month.
Each saved 6 runs in May, with Straw tying Aquino for most Runs Saved by an outfielder for the month. Additionally, each finished with 4 Good Fielding Plays and no Defensive Misplays or Errors.