Best friends Rutschman, Henderson to start ASG together

July 4th, 2024

SEATTLE -- The Orioles’ 2019 MLB Draft class could go down as one of baseball’s all-time best, mostly due to two players -- Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson.

Rutschman went first overall in that Draft -- Mike Elias’ first as Baltimore’s general manager -- and Henderson went 42nd. Soon, they were splitting a hotel room in Florida as they took on Rookie Ball together by day and watched “Bohemian Rhapsody” on repeat by night.

“It just blossomed from there,” Rutschman said.

Five years later, the teammates -- now two of baseball’s brightest stars -- will be starters in the same All-Star Game together.

The Phase 2 voting results for the 2024 All-Star Game were announced Wednesday, with both Rutschman and Henderson earning starting spots for the American League. The Midsummer Classic is set for 8 p.m. ET on July 16 at Globe Life Field in Arlington (FOX).

“It’s really cool to be able to do that, [after we] both get our first starts in the same year,” Henderson said. “Pretty unreal. It’s very special to me, because he was my first roommate when I got into pro ball, and then obviously we’ve had our relationship as best friends throughout our time together throughout the Minor Leagues and into the big leagues.”

It’s the second straight All-Star nod for the 26-year-old Rutschman, who was an AL reserve in 2023, and will start at catcher in ‘24. Henderson, 23, is a first-time All-Star and will be starting at shortstop a day after he competes in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby for the first time.

The Orioles’ four other ASG finalists -- first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, third baseman Jordan Westburg, outfielder Anthony Santander and designated hitter Ryan O’Hearn -- lost in their Phase 2 voting matchups.

However, several of them could still be named AL reserves, which are decided via player voting and the Commissioner’s Office.

The full 2024 All-Star Game rosters will be announced at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday on ESPN.

Baltimore will have two players start the same All-Star Game for the first time since 2014, when center fielder Adam Jones and designated hitter Nelson Cruz were both in the AL lineup.

Rutschman received a whopping 70% of the fan vote for his finals matchup against Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Rutschman has been raking during his third MLB season, entering Wednesday with a .291/.346/.465 slash line, 12 doubles, 15 home runs and 55 RBIs in 80 games.

And he got the news in the same place where he made his All-Star debut -- and the home of the first Major League game he attended as a kid -- with his family coming to the Orioles’ night game against the Mariners.

“It’s nice that I’ll be able to see my family today, be able to tell them and kind of celebrate that with them,” Rutschman said. “It feels very fortunate that they’re here.”

Last year, Rutschman went 0-for-1 in his first Midsummer Classic. He also hit 27 homers prior to his first-round exit in the Home Run Derby, a performance most remembered for him switching between both sides of the plate.

Henderson, a second-round Draft pick in 2019, was the AL Rookie of the Year in ‘23. He has taken his game to another level in ‘24, becoming one of MLB’s top players during the first half and winning his ASG finals matchup vs. Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr. by getting 65% of votes to be officially marked as the top shortstop in the AL.

“It’s pretty cool being able to be considered that,” Henderson said. “It’s just kind of a testament to the hard work that not only [I] have put in but also the hitting coaches, the infield coaches, all the development staff. Work still continues to come, but it’s pretty cool to be acknowledged like that.”

Through 84 games, Henderson is slashing .288/.383/.600 with 17 doubles, four triples, 26 homers and 58 RBIs. He ranks second in the Majors in bWAR (6.2) and fWAR (6.0) -- behind only Yankees slugger Aaron Judge in both -- and only two players have more home runs: Judge (32) and the Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani (27).

Now, he’s bound for the biggest stage of the summer, and he’ll be there with the teammate who's been by his side for the majority of his professional journey.

“It’s awesome,” Rutschman said. “I saw him in the weight room, we were able to dap each other up and have a little moment. Really cool to see him going. Obviously he deserves it, I’m not really surprised by him. Just to see how far he’s come is pretty impressive.”