Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson named AL Outstanding Rookie by fellow players

For the second time in three years, an Orioles rookie was recognized as the American League’s best by fellow major leaguers.

On Thursday, Baltimore infielder Gunnar Henderson was named the AL’s Outstanding Rookie in the Major League Baseball Players Association’s Players Choice Awards. Ryan Mountcastle won the honor from his peers in 2021.

Henderson opened the season viewed as baseball’s No. 1 overall prospect and the favorite to be the AL’s top rookie. He got off to a slow start in his first full major league season before turning it around emphatically. Two months into his rookie year, the then-21-year-old was batting .199 and had struck out in more than 30% of his plate appearances. But from that point on, he hit 23 home runs across 102 games, batting .275/.322/.531.

On the season, Henderson hit 28 home runs — tied with Cal Ripken Jr. for the second most by a rookie in Orioles history behind Mountcastle’s 33 — with a .255 average and .814 OPS. He led all AL rookies in home runs, RBIs (82) and triples (nine) and ranked second in hits (143) and doubles (29) while also playing defense that rated as above average at both shortstop and third base. The performance will likely also make Henderson the first Oriole to be the official AL Rookie of the Year since 1989. That honor will be announced Nov. 13.

Although the eventual World Series champion Texas Rangers swept Baltimore out of the AL Division Series, Henderson went 6-for-12 with a home run in his first three postseason games.

“If he had gone 0-fer, I wouldn’t think any less of him,” executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said. “But everything that he does at his age and the way he does it, it’s a treat to watch. For me, as somebody who’s been watching baseball my whole life, it’s a treat for me to watch Gunnar Henderson play baseball. I’m so happy that we have him. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Orioles right-hander Kyle Bradish and first baseman Ryan O’Hearn joined Henderson as Players Choice Award finalists, but New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole took home the AL Outstanding Pitcher Award, while Chicago’s Liam Hendriks was named the AL Comeback Player over O’Hearn.

Phil Bradley, an outfielder who played with Baltimore in 1989 and 1990, also won the Curt Flood Award, which recognizes a former player “who in the image of Flood demonstrated a selfless, longtime devotion to the Players Association and advancement of Players’ rights.” Bradley is in his 25th year as an MLBPA special assistant and was heavily involved in the union’s negotiations with the league during his playing career.


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