Henderson Honored as the 2023 Most Valuable Oriole

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Henderson Honored as the 2023 Most Valuable Oriole

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At 22 years old, this infielder becomes the fourth rookie to clinch the award, marking the second consecutive year following Rutschman’s win.

BALTIMORE — For the second consecutive year, a Baltimore player has made the remarkable journey from being MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 overall prospect to becoming a standout rookie and ultimately earning the coveted Most Valuable Oriole Award during the same season.

On Saturday, 22-year-old infielder Gunnar Henderson received the prestigious 2023 Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award, a distinction determined by votes from local media members regularly covering the team. Henderson followed in the footsteps of catcher Adley Rutschman, who claimed the honor as a rookie in the previous year, making him the fourth rookie ever to earn this accolade, alongside pitchers Gregg Olson (1989) and Rodrigo López (2002).

Voting for the award, named in honor of Hatter, a former Baltimore Sun writer who dedicated 27 years to covering the team, was conducted earlier this week using a point system of 5-3-1. Other notable contenders who received votes included closer Félix Bautista, starter Kyle Bradish, first baseman/outfielder Ryan O’Hearn, Rutschman, and outfielder Anthony Santander.

This season, there were more compelling candidates for the Most Valuable Oriole Award than in recent memory, largely due to the team’s exceptional performance. Baltimore clinched the American League East title on Thursday, achieving 100 wins for only the sixth time in team history, the first time since their 100-62 record in 1980.

Henderson emerged as the frontrunner during the second half of the season, thanks to his remarkable offensive contributions and outstanding defensive skills at both shortstop and third base.

Although Henderson began the year as baseball’s No. 1 prospect and the clear favorite for AL Rookie of the Year, his first full season in the big leagues didn’t start on the right foot. On May 12, he had a batting average of just .170 with three home runs and seven RBIs in 33 games.

The Orioles maintained their faith in Henderson’s batting potential, and their patience paid off handsomely. His performance picked up in June, where he posted an impressive .320/.354/.640 slash line in 20 games. Henderson then became a reliable presence near the top of the batting order during the latter half of the season. Over this period, he displayed consistent performance with a .267/.309/.526 slash line, accumulating 17 doubles, six triples, 15 home runs, and 45 RBIs in 69 games.

Henderson’s 28 home runs this season have tied him with Santander for the team lead and placed him second among rookies in franchise history, alongside Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. (1982). Additionally, he boasts a team-high .818 OPS and an impressive nine triples, ranking second in the AL, surpassed only by Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. (10).

Defensively, Henderson has been a constant source of spectacular plays. According to FanGraphs, he has accumulated 13 defensive runs saved, with nine at shortstop and four at third base, leading the Orioles in this regard.

Manager Brandon Hyde praised Henderson’s dedication, stating, ‘He loves to play, plays as hard as anybody. Power. Hit tool. Speed. Arm. He’s a good player.’

Henderson, chosen by Baltimore in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft, is on track to receive yet another award at the conclusion of this season, as he stands as the clear favorite for the AL Rookie of the Year. As he continues to accumulate experience in the big leagues, there is the promise of even greater development in the years to come.

Manager Hyde first recognized Henderson’s potential as a special player during Spring Training in 2021 when his exceptional skill set captured the skipper’s attention.

“At that time, I thought, ‘He has the potential to be truly exceptional,'” Hyde reflected. “I didn’t anticipate it happening this quickly.

Reference

https://www.mlb.com/orioles/news/gunnar-henderson-2023-most-valuable-oriole#:~:text=On%20Saturday%2C%20Gunnar%20Henderson%20was,as%20a%20rookie%20in%20’22.

https://www.wbal.com/article/617284/6/rookie-infielder-gunnar-henderson-named-2023-most-valuable-oriole

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