Gunnar Henderson is drawing more walks and talks about why that is happening

The Orioles' Gunnar Henderson has been piling up some walks lately. In the season’s first 31 games, he drew only eight walks. But in the last 22 games he has 19 walks.

He got walked nine times in seven games on the recent road trip and then drew one walk in Monday’s series opener with Boston.

So what is at work here? Is Gunnar looking to walk more? Are teams pitching around him or pitching him more carefully recently?

“I mean I am getting a little more comfortable taking pitches,” Henderson said Tuesday afternoon in the Baltimore clubhouse. “Probably earlier in the season I was chasing maybe a touch, but, yeah, just kind of really trying to pick out certain pitches and doing well at taking the ones that are kind of close. Ones that I feel I can do damage with, I usually get off a swing. That’s the biggest thing.”

Taking the close pitches that are balls should be a good thing, right?

“Yeah. I’ve been taking the walks whenever it seems like they don’t want to throw me a strike. I haven’t been trying to do too much in certain situations and just am taking what they give me in situations that calls for that.”

Is he being pitched more carefully as his homer total mounts?

“Feel like it just depends on the situation. I wouldn’t really say pitching around me because we have guys behind me that can do damage as well," he said.

Here is what manager Brandon Hyde said about more walks recently for Henderson: “I think teams are definitely being careful with him. Done a nice job taking some borderline pitches off the plate too. He is so dangerous at the plate that teams don’t want to miss middle part. He’s done a really good job taking walks and not expanding the strike zone but being ready when he gets something he can drive. Really like the at-bats he is taking.”

Henderson’s 27 walks lead the Orioles, and he leads them in walk rate too at 11.5, just ahead of Colton Cowser at 11.3. The increased walks have not hurt Henderson’s run production obviously.

“No. If I can get on base for the guys behind me and they hit a single or double I’m going first to third or first to home. Any way we can put up runs, I’ll do it,” he said.

He is on a pace for 52 homers for the year. Chris Davis holds the Orioles' single-season team record with 53 in the 2013 season.

“I mean, I’m just trying to do the best I can to help us win. If it comes with homers, it comes with homers. I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say it would be cool to hit 50 homers in the big leagues. Yeah, just keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully I get to that number," Henderson said.

As well as he has been hitting - and after last night's game Henderson is batting .259, slugging .576 with 17 homers, 37 RBIs and an OPS of .931 - it may seem like he has been locked in at the plate all year long. But actually, Gunnar doesn't see it that way.

“Well, to be quite honest, I don’t feel like I’ve been locked in," he said. "Don’t feel I have gotten to that point yet. I’ve had good stretches but hadn’t really in total felt completely locked in. Think I’ve stuck to a good process even on days I’m not feeling that great. I go out there and lock in for those at-bats and try to make the best of those days. That holds you over until you get to feeling good. There have been good days and bad days but no matter what I have felt like that day, I have really stuck to my process and approach I want to."

Series finale tonight: The Orioles' 11-3 win on Monday was followed by last night's 8-3 loss to Boston. So tonight, the Orioles (34-19) and Boston (28-27) play the rubber match game to decide this series.

The Orioles have gone 17 straight series against AL East opponents without losing one. Their last AL series loss was from April 7-9, 2023 when they lost two of three at home to the New York Yankees. The Orioles will need to win tonight, or they will have their first division series loss since that one.

Westburg and Rutschman out of Orioles lineup vs. R...
More thoughts on Orioles losing Wells and Means fr...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to