Gunnar Henderson on joining Ripken and Murray in the rookie 25-25 club

Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray were Orioles Rookie of the Year winners, and last night Gunnar Henderson joined the Hall of Famers as the only rookies in team history to hit 25 or more doubles and homers in a season.

He hit homer No. 25 in the sixth inning as the Orioles beat St. Louis 11-5.

As he attempts to become the first O’s ROY since pitcher Gregg Olson in 1989, Henderson is putting the finishes touches on one strong season.

Now he put his name alongside O’s royalty.

“That is awesome,” Henderson said in the clubhouse today. “Anytime you can be considered with those two names it’s really special. Just for all they have done in Oriole history. Pretty cool to see my name with them.

“Definitely, coming up through the system it seems like a very historical franchise, and they love their Orioles. Cal and Eddie are two of the best ever for the Orioles. So, pretty cool to see my name with them.”

In 1977, Murray hit 29 doubles, 27 homers, had an OPS of .803, producing a 123 OPS+. In 1982, Ripken had 32 doubles, 28 homers, an OPS of .792, producing an OPS+ of 115. This season Henderson has 25 and 25 - with 19 games left - for an .820 OPS and OPS+ of 125.

“Got to meet Eddie in spring training a few times, and I’ve met Cal a few times,” Henderson said today. “Actually first met him (Ripken) in 2018, the Under Armour All American game he gave us our gloves. That was the first time I got to meet him, and have talked to him a decent amount when he came to the clubhouse.

“I talked to Cal a bit, and he said he loved watching me at short, because he was a bigger shortstop as well. Really liked how I moved out there and how I played the game, so pretty cool to talk to him about that.”

Batting .257/.328/.492/.820, Henderson ranks 12th in the American League in slugging, tied for 14th in OPS and tied for 15th in home runs.

It’s late in a long year, but he said he feels great as the season is winding down.

“Body feels great. Feel like I am holding up really well," he said. "Trying to take of my body in my first full year. Figuring out what works for me.”

Henderson continues to play solid defense for the Orioles, with 62 starts at third base and 52 at shortstop. He’s pleased with his defense at both and is getting more shortstop starts, it seems, as the season winds down.

“I feel like I’ve been able to show what I can do out there,” he said. “Get my feet up under me. Lot of people didn’t expect that on the defensive side. I knew I could do it. Feel like I’ve got my feet under me at both positions 'cause I have to play a pretty even split of both. Just allow myself to let my instincts take over.”

The Orioles (91-52) begin play tonight leading the AL East by three games over the Tampa Bay Rays. They have a magic number of four to clinch a playoff spot and 16 to clinch the AL East title for the first time since 2014. 

Sixteen times in club history an O's team has won 92 or more games, and this one will join the list with their next win. 

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