Gunnar's star power keeps rising in O's series win

Young shortstop's metrics rank among MLB's best, falls triple shy of cycle against Halos

April 25th, 2024

ANAHEIM -- If 2023 was a breakout campaign for , consider this season a continuation of that development.

The 22-year-old infielder and Orioles leadoff hitter has ascended to an even higher level in ‘24 and firmly established himself as one of baseball’s top stars.

Henderson’s great start continued on Wednesday afternoon, when he reached base five times and finished a triple shy of the cycle in a 6-5 Orioles win over the Angels in the rubber game at Angel Stadium.

Henderson started the scoring with a solo home run in the third inning -- his second straight game with a homer against a lefty -- and doubled in the fifth inning before scoring on Adley Rutschman’s RBI single. In his next plate appearance, Henderson brought home two runs on a single.

“I feel good. I’ve been making some adjustments. I kind of felt like I was getting around to where I wanted to be, but still not exactly there,” Henderson said about his performance at the plate. “I felt like I made some good improvements in the cages today and saw some progress.”

Through the completion of the Orioles’ game, Henderson ranked near the top of the position-player leaderboards in a plethora of key stats. According to FanGraphs’ version of Wins Above Replacement, Henderson was tied with Mookie Betts for the MLB lead with 1.9 WAR and is a top-five qualified position player by wRC+ (193) and slugging (.649).

O’s starter Dean Kremer also had a huge outing. The 28-year-old right-hander had one of the best starts of his career, allowing two runs on three hits and one walk in 5 1/3 innings, while tying a career high with 10 strikeouts.

The 28-year-old right-hander carried a no-hitter through 4 2/3 innings before Jo Adell’s single.

“[Catcher James] McCann, the coaching staff and I had a pretty good plan coming in,” Kremer said. “I think what we did well was reading swings and came in with a solid approach, and executed.”

The game got a bit dicey for the Orioles at the end. The Angels scored five unanswered runs and threatened to tie the game in the ninth. With the potential tying run trying on first base, McCann nailed Angels runner Jo Adell attempting to steal second base to end the game.

A close play that could have gone either way was reviewed and ultimately ruled to stand.

Henderson's type of power production is every bit believable, too, when you delve into his underlying metrics. He entered Wednesday with a 96.3 mph average exit velocity, the top figure in the Majors (minimum 50 batted balls) and just ahead of names like Juan Soto (95.4 mph), Bobby Witt Jr. (95.2 mph) and Shohei Ohtani (95.1 mph).

Henderson also entered the day with an elite 60 percent hard-hit rate (95-plus mph exit velocity), a figure bested by only five hitters, including teammate Jordan Westburg (60.3 percent). Henderson’s .401 Weighted On-base Average (wOBA) was an even match for his .401 expected wOBA -- based on a player’s quality and quantity of contact.