It is bound to happen a few more times, maybe many, many more times throughout their baseball careers. On the same night this past week, twice both Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson were honored.
On Wednesday they were two of six Orioles nominated for the all MLB team, which will be announced Dec. 16 on MLB Network. The team will be selected by a fan and media vote, each counting 50 percent. On Thursday night, Rutschman and Henderson both won Silver Slugger Awards. The first set of O’s teammates to take this honor since three O’s won Silver Sluggers (Chris Davis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy) in 2013.
Adley and Gunnar. Gunnar and Adley.
Linked since their draft day in 2019 when they became the first two MLB Draft selections Mike Elias made as O’s executive vice president and general manager.
Rutschman was the No. 1 overall pick in that draft with enormous expectations from the start. Henderson was the No. 42 pick in the draft, compared by some due to his position, size and style of play to Corey Seager. There were hopes for him but many fewer expectations with a pick at 42.
But both now deliver big for the Orioles. Rutschman beat Henderson to Baltimore but Henderson has now caught up to him and in some ways exceeded him on the stat sheet.
During the all MLB nominee MLB Network broadcast, Rutschman was interviewed and asked about playing with Henderson.
“I’ve seen him grow up, man,” said Rutschman. “He was my roommate down in the GCL (Gulf Coast League) in 2019. Just to watch him go through his process every day is a blessing. He’s the hardest worker. He shows up every single day with a great mentality and the dude plays on fire. It’s so fun to watch. It’s awesome to call him a teammate and a friend.”
How good a draft pick was Henderson? He has a chance to become the player taken No. 42 to produce the most Wins Above Replacement all-time in the draft that began in 1965.
Henderson played his first MLB game on Aug. 31, 2022 and already has amassed 7.1 bWAR. He produced 6.2 this season alone, a total that could lead him to the AL Rookie of the Year Award when its announced this week.
In the history of the draft, the most career WAR for the No. 42 overall pick is 25.7 produced by pitcher Dennis Leonard selected by Kansas City in 1972. The second-most is 22.1 by outfielder Mookie Wilson of the Mets, selected in 1977. If Henderson produced exactly 6.2 WAR the next three seasons he would tie Leonard for most career WAR by the end of the 2026 season. A long career at his current level and he’ll blow by everybody ever taken No. 42.
Meanwhile, Rutschman was asked about the greater enthusiasm the O's fans generated this year and louder crowds at Camden Yards during the MLB Network telecast.
“It’s the best. You see the splash zone right there. We have great fans and they’re supportive. It’s cool seeing them around in Baltimore too. Everyone kind of knows what’s going on and they’re so supportive. So, we’re blessed," he said.
He also talked about the doubters the team proved wrong during the 2023 season, particularly a pitching staff that exceeded some of the expert projections.
“I think for us, we always kept our expectations in house. We always thought we were good enough, hitting, pitching, you know our guys just continued to work throughout the year and get better. As the year went on guys continued to build and make themselves better pitchers. It’s fun because I was just along for the ride at that point trying to help along their journey. I thought our guys did great and was super proud of how they handled themselves every day," he said.
Another O's award: The Orioles organization added another award last night. The Middle Atlantic Major League Baseball Scouts Association named the O's Mike Elias as its Executive of the Year at their 33rd annual banquet at Mountain Branch golf course in Harford County.
Elias was also recently named Executive of the Year by Major League Baseball after the Orioles rebuild led to a 101-win season, the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs and an AL East championship.
Also last night, former MLB player, coach and manager Jim Riggleman earned career recognition from the scouts while Dan Radcliff of the Pirates and John Wilson of the Twins were added to the MASA's Hall of Fame.
There is a plaque in the center field area of Camden Yards that recognizes the Hall of Famers from the scouts association.
It was a pleasure for me to attend this banquet as I have in previous years. The MASA officers Tom Burns, Alex Smith and James Fisher do a great job putting on this banquet that honors and promotes scouts in our region.
Click here for a tweet showing Elias and his award from last night.