“Super Rookie” Gunner Henderson, 21, of the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball (MLB) is living up to expectations.
Henderson came up to bat with runners on first and second with one out in a 5-4 loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium in New York City today (Aug. 25). It was the game-winning hit that turned a 1-5 game around.
With the lead in hand, Baltimore scored two more runs to make it an eight-run first inning. It was Baltimore’s first eight-run inning since September 9, 2021, against the Kansas City Royals (nine runs in eight innings).
Henderson, who joined Baltimore with the first pick of the second round (42nd overall) in the 2019 draft, was the league’s top prospect beyond his team. Before the season, he was the No. 2 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline and the No. 1 overall prospect per Baseball America (BA). Before the season, MLB.com projected Henderson to win the American League (AL) Rookie of the Year, so the expectations were high.
But the big leagues weren’t easy for him, 메이저놀이터 and despite getting consistent playing time, he struggled to impress in the month of April, going 14-for-71 with three doubles, two home runs, a .197 batting average, and a .669 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
Since May, however, he’s turned it up a notch with 14 hits in 62 at-bats (three doubles, two triples), three home runs, a .226 batting average, and an OPS of 0.808. He’s even upped his OPS to 0.727 on the season.
The biggest draw for Henderson is his position. He plays a lot of third base due to the team’s situation with Jorge Mateo at shortstop, but he’s considered an elite infielder who can also play shortstop defense.
Henderson has played 35 games at third base and nine at shortstop this season, and he’s played solid defense at both positions, posting DRS (a metric that shows how many runs you prevent) of 1 and 0, respectively.
If Henderson is successful in his big league adjustment, the AL Rookie of the Year race will likely heat up. It’s early in the season, but the current Rookie of the Year contenders include outfielder Masataka Yoshida (Boston Red Sox), third baseman Josh Young (Texas Rangers), shortstop Anthony Wolfe (Yankees), and pitcher Hunter Braun (Houston Astros).