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BALTIMORE -- Before Brandon Hyde was named the 2023 American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday, the Orioles’ skipper celebrated a similar achievement for one of his top young players the night before.
Baltimore went 2-for-2 to open the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Awards season, as Gunnar Henderson captured the AL Rookie of the Year honor. It’s the third time the O’s have won multiple BBWAA Awards in the same year -- Jim Palmer (Cy Young) and Al Bumbry (ROY) received honors in 1973, and Frank Robinson (MOY) and Gregg Olson (ROY) did so in ‘89.
Hyde couldn’t have led the 2023 Orioles to 101 wins and an AL East title without the performances of players like Henderson, one of baseball’s rising stars.
“There was a lot of hype coming into the season from how he finished the year before in September, No. 1 prospect in baseball as a 21-year-old,” Hyde said. “How he handled it was just unbelievably impressive. And then he became a force in the league really from May or June on, the way he was able to drive a baseball, impact the game with his legs, how he played defense at shortstop and third base. So impressed by him. The sky’s the limit for him.”
There should be a bright future ahead for Henderson, and the toolsy infielder showed why that’s likely to be the case quite often this year. Let’s count down the five most memorable moments from his AL Rookie of the Year Award-winning 2023 campaign.
5. July 21-22: Flashing the leather all over The Trop
We’ll begin this descending ranking with a two-for-one defensive special. The Orioles won three of four games against the AL East-rival Rays at Tropicana Field from July 20-23, and Henderson’s glovework was impressive in that series.
On July 21, Henderson made a tremendous play at shortstop, tumbling to the ground and then springing to his feet to rob Randy Arozarena of a hit on a grounder up the middle. The next day, Henderson one-upped himself, this time at third base. He made a diving catch to his right on a liner off the bat of Isaac Paredes, then immediately stood up and fired to first to nab Brandon Lowe for an inning-ending double play.
3. Sept. 1: One ROY throws out another
Henderson’s top defensive highlight may have been one that came at the expense of Arizona’s Corbin Carroll, this year’s National League Rookie of the Year. After tracking down a Nick Ahmed popup in shallow left field, Henderson completed a basket catch and then threw a 90.2 mph laser to home to nab Carroll, who was running at an elite sprint speed of 31.1 feet per second, per Statcast. It was another jaw-dropping inning-ending double play turned by Henderson.
2. June 11: The 462-foot Eutaw Street home run
Nobody in the 32 seasons of baseball played at Camden Yards has hit a longer home run onto Eutaw Street during a game than Henderson, who belted a Statcast-projected 462-foot homer there in an 11-3 victory over the Royals. The only home run to hit the warehouse stationed beyond Eutaw Street came from Ken Griffey Jr., who did so in the 1993 Home Run Derby. Henderson might have the left-handed power to also hit the warehouse someday.
1. Aug. 20: Close to a cycle, but even better
Who needs a cycle when you can get four extra-base hits instead? That was Henderson’s thinking when he came to the plate a single shy of the cycle in the eighth inning of a game at Oakland Coliseum. Instead of becoming the first O’s rookie to hit for the cycle, he became the youngest player in team history with four extra-base hits in a game, as he doubled down the right-field line. Henderson always plays at max effort, and he proved that by not stopping at first base.
How many players from the Orioles’ 2019 MLB Draft class have reached the big leagues?
The Orioles subtracted two players from their 40-man roster on Tuesday, when left-hander Tucker Davidson and infielder/outfielder Terrin Vavra cleared outright waivers and were assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. Then, Baltimore didn’t make any additional moves ahead of Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET deadline to protect Rule 5 Draft-eligible players by selecting their contract.
That left the O’s 40-man roster at 36 players. Here’s how it is constructed at this early juncture of the offseason:
Pitchers (19): Keegan Akin, Bryan Baker, Mike Baumann, Félix Bautista, Kyle Bradish, Yennier Cano, Danny Coulombe, DL Hall, Cole Irvin, Seth Johnson, Dean Kremer, John Means, Cionel Pérez, Grayson Rodriguez, Dillon Tate, Nick Vespi, Jacob Webb, Tyler Wells, Bruce Zimmermann
Catchers (2): James McCann, Adley Rutschman
Infielders (7): Gunnar Henderson, Jorge Mateo, Ryan Mountcastle, Ryan O’Hearn, Joey Ortiz, Ramón Urías, Jordan Westburg
Outfielders (8): Colton Cowser, Austin Hays, Sam Hilliard, Heston Kjerstad, Ryan McKenna, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Kyle Stowers
More players could be removed from Baltimore’s 40-man roster ahead of Friday’s 8 p.m. ET non-tender deadline. The Orioles have 17 arbitration-eligible players, several of whom are non-tender candidates, including Akin, McKenna and Tate.
Henderson will get more than a plaque for being named AL Rookie of the Year. By winning the award, the 22-year-old is set to receive a $750,000 bonus paid out from MLB’s pre-arbitration player bonus pool.
The Orioles also get a reward for Henderson’s addition to his trophy case. The club will receive an extra pick in the 2024 MLB Draft following the conclusion of the first round. So the O’s will have the No. 24 selection in the first round, then pick two more times before the start of the second round, as they’ll also have a selection in Competitive Balance Round A.
Rutschman (first round), Henderson (second), Stowers (Competitive Balance Round B) and Ortiz (fourth) have all played in the Major Leagues for the Orioles.
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