The Baltimore Orioles have the best young core in baseball. And they have the American League’s best rookie.
Shortstop Gunnar Henderson has won the AL Rookie of the Year award, earning all 30 first-place votes.
While Henderson ran away with the 2023 award, his first full season in the majors wasn’t easy all the way through. He hit below .200 through the first two months of the season and five home runs through 50 games.
But Henderson began to turn things around in early June, around the same time he actually got rid of the hair many baseball fans recognized during his rise to the majors. He ended up hitting .276 with a .856 OPS, 23 homers and 68 RBIs over his last 100 games of the year. That brought his final line .255 batting average, a .814 OPS, 28 homers, 82 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
Henderson’s surge also coincided with the Orioles’ climb up the standings. The Orioles went 63-37 across their final 100 games of 2023, finishing the year with an AL-best 101 wins and overtaking the Rays to win their first division title in nine years.
Even though the Orioles were swept by the Rangers in the ALDS, Henderson’s emergence helped them become one of baseball’s biggest surprises. Baltimore won 83 games in 2022 and just 52 games the year prior.
Henderson’s Rookie of the Year selection comes on the heels of catcher Adley Rutschman finishing second in 2022 and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle placing sixth in 2021. The trend could continue in the near future, as the Orioles have a handful of top-50 prospects in their system, including consensus top prospect Jackson Holliday.
Henderson beat out Guardians starting pitcher Tanner Bibee and Red Sox first baseman Triston Casas for the award.
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