Orioles Infielder Gunnar Henderson Named 2023 Most Valuable Oriole

September 30th, 2023

The Orioles today announced that infielder GUNNAR HENDERSON has been voted the winner of the 2023 Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award by members of the local media who cover the team on a regular basis. He will be recognized for his accomplishments during an on-field ceremony prior to tonight’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

Henderson becomes the fourth rookie to be named the winner of the award since its inception in 1954, joining right-handed pitchers GREGG OLSON in 1989 and RODRIGO LÓPEZ in 2002, as well as catcher ADLEY RUTSCHMAN in 2022.

He enters play today slashing .257/.326/.492 (142-for-553) with 28 doubles, nine triples, 28 home runs, 99 runs scored, 82 RBI, 55 walks, 272 total bases, 10 stolen bases, and an .818 OPS in 148 games. He leads the O’s in runs, surpassing CAL RIPKEN, JR’s. mark of 90 in 1982 for the most in a rookie season in O’s history. He is set to become the fourth rookie to lead the Orioles in runs, joining Ripken, Jr., WILLIE TASBY (1959, 69), and TITO FRANCONA (1956, 62). He is the third rookie in O's history to record 25+ doubles and 25+ home runs, joining Ripken, Jr. and EDDIE MURRAY (1977), who both won American League Rookie of the Year. His 28 homers are tied with Ripken, Jr. for the second-most by a rookie in a season in O's history, behind only RYAN MOUNTCASTLE (33 in 2021), and his 65 extra-base hits are tied with Ripken, Jr. for the most in a rookie season in O's history. He is the first rookie in team history with 20+ doubles, 5+ triples, 20+ homers, and 10+ stolen bases, and the 20th rookie in Major League Baseball history with such a stat line, joining Arizona's Corbin Carroll this year, and the first in the AL since Kansas City's Bobby Witt Jr. in 2022.

The Alabama native leads the Orioles and MLB rookies in Baseball Reference Wins Above Replacement (bWAR) with 6.1, which ranks third among all AL hitters. That is currently the best bWAR by a rookie in Orioles history, surpassing Rutschman’s mark of 5.2. He leads AL rookies and ranks second on the O’s in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) with 4.7, which is the third-best mark by a rookie in O’s history, trailing Rutschman and BOBBY GRICH (1972) with 5.4. Henderson also leads the Orioles in triples, ranks tied for the lead in home runs, second in extra-base hits and RBI, tied for second in walks, third in games played, and fourth in hits and stolen bases. Among qualified Orioles batters, he leads the team in slugging and OPS and ranks second in on-base percentage.

Henderson paces MLB rookies in home runs and ranks tied for the lead in extra-base hits. He leads AL rookies in runs, RBI, total bases, triples, and game-winning RBI (10), while ranking among AL rookie leaders in hits (2nd), doubles (2nd), and walks (4th). According to STATS, he leads qualified AL rookies in slugging percentage while ranking among the leaders in OPS (2nd) and on-base percentage (4th).

The 22-year-old infielder has appeared in 82 games at third base, making 68 starts, and 81 games at shortstop, making 62 starts. His 13 total Defensive Runs Saved lead the O’s, according to Sports Info Solutions. Nine of those are at shortstop, tied for sixth in MLB despite playing over 300 fewer innings at the position than anyone ahead of him. Henderson leads MLB with six runner runs, a metric designed to evaluate the performance of runners taking extra bases, per Statcast.

Entering the 2023 season, Henderson was ranked as the top prospect in the game by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, FanGraphs, and MLB Pipeline. Last season, he was named the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, MLB Pipeline Hitting Prospect of the Year, and represented the Orioles at the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

The Most Valuable Oriole Award is named in honor of the late LOU HATTER, a former sportswriter for The Baltimore Sun who covered the Orioles for 27 years. Balloting for the Most Valuable Oriole Award concluded this week, with voting on a 5-3-1 basis. Five other players received a first, second, or third place vote: FÉLIX BAUTISTA, KYLE BRADISH, RYAN O’HEARN, ADLEY RUTSCHMAN, and ANTHONY SANTANDER.