Gunnar Henderson needs to build a wing onto his trophy case. The kind that also can't be clipped.
Henderson will be named American League Rookie of the Year tonight in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The first Oriole since closer Gregg Olson in 1989 and the seventh overall.
I believe in miracles, but there isn’t one that can deny Henderson of the honor.
Henderson already won The Sporting News and Major League Baseball Players Association Players Choice Award as the league's top rookie. His competition tonight is the Red Sox’s Tristan Casas and the Guardians’ Tanner Bibee.
I can’t reveal my ballot until tonight’s announcement, but yeah, those three sound right to me.
The Rangers’ Josh Jung appeared to be the frontrunner until his thumb fracture on Aug. 6 that cost him more than a month of the season. His name appeared on some ballots, which I remind everyone are turned in before the playoffs.
We’ll also find out whether Orioles reliever Yennier Cano received votes.
Tune into MLB Network tonight beginning at 6 p.m. The program will stretch an entire hour. Hope you like filler.
Baseball’s version of breadcrumbs.
What else can be said about Henderson that you haven’t already heard and read? He slashed .255/.325/.489 with 29 doubles, nine triples, 28 home runs, 82 RBIs, 100 runs, 56 walks and 10 stolen bases in 150 games. He set club rookie records for extra-base hits, runs, slugging percentage and a 6.3 bWAR. He led major league rookies in bWAR, home runs, and extra-base hits, and AL rookies in fWAR (4.6), triples, runs, RBIs and total bases. He led the Orioles with 13 defensive runs saved, per Sports Info Solutions.
The media voted him Most Valuable Oriole. That got the awards ball rolling and it’s gaining momentum.
"He’s a special player," catcher James McCann told me late in the season. "Obviously, the talent. That’s easy to see and talk about. But he runs hard every time he puts the ball into play. He expects perfection out of himself. So much so, there’s times where you’ve got to talk him off the ledge a little bit. Remind him how good of a year he’s having. That an 0-for-3, 0-for-4, he’s going to be all right.
"I think just the way he plays the game, how hard he plays the game. And he does the little things right. That, to me, is the best part about him. Obviously, the talent, and he’s hands-down Rookie of the Year. There’s not even another person I’d vote for.”
“He’s very, very impressive," said starter Kyle Bradish. "First came up last year toward the end of the year, had success really quick, and then kind of struggled a little bit at the beginning of this year. But he got back to the kind of player that he is. Just a hard-nosed player, a little bit of old school in him. Always hustling.”
“I’ve only played with one other guy that would be comparable to him and that’s Corey Seager, but he’s faster," said reliever Danny Coulombe. "So, it’s pretty impressive what he can do on a baseball field. And I don’t even think he’s even close to reaching the potential that he has. He’s a special player and I think he’s going to be a special player in this league for a long time.”
The week is baseball business busy beyond the BBWAA.
The deadline is Tuesday at 6 p.m. for teams to protect players eligible for the Rule 5 draft. The Orioles have two openings on their 40-man roster.
Infielder Jordan Westburg and outfielder Heston Kjerstad had their contracts selected this season and don’t need to be protected. However, outfielder Hudson Haskin and catcher Maverick Handley rank among the most likely possibilities. Ryan Watson, the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2022, and right-hander Jean Pinto also are eligible.
So, too, are pitchers Zach Peek, Kyle Brnovich and Trey McGough, the latter chosen to the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game.
MLB Pipeline ranks Haskin as the No. 17 prospect in the organization. Injuries have slowed his progression.
The Rule 5 draft is Dec. 6 to close out the Winter Meetings in Nashville.
The non-tender deadline arrives on Friday for players eligible for arbitration. The Orioles have 17 on that list, including outfielder Sam Hilliard, claimed off waivers from the Braves.
Pitcher Tyler Wells and outfielder Ryan McKenna reached Super 2 status, according to a story posted by the Associated Press on Nov. 3. The cutoff was set at two years and 118 days of major league service time.
Here’s the full list again, which MLBTradeRumors published in October, though Hilliard was among the Braves players prior to the waiver claim:
The Orioles could reach agreements on contracts to avoid a hearing or keep negotiating with tendered players before exchanging figures on Jan. 12.
They offered contracts to all six arbitration-eligible players last year: Santander, Mullins, Hays, Mateo, Tate and pitcher Austin Voth.
Update: Henderson was selected by the BBWAA as the AL’s Rookie of the Year, receiving all 30 first-place votes. Bibee was second with 67 points, followed by Casas with 25.
Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. announced the winner. He received the award in 1982.
"It's really special, especially just one of the best to ever do it," Henderson said. "Him taking time out of his day to do this, and coming into the clubhouse and stuff and chatting with me, it's been pretty special to have a guy like that. I can't thank him enough for everything he's done and looking forward to many conversations with him."
Jung was fourth in voting with 16 points, followed by the Astros’ Yanier Díaz (six), the Red Sox’s Masataka Yoshida (three), the Twins’ Edouard Julien (two) and the Yankees’ Anthony Volpe (one).
The Orioles will receive an extra first-round draft pick through the Prospect Promotion Incentive.
Henderson, the 13th unanimous AL Rookie of the Year, hit .189/.348/.311 the first month and .213/.315/.425 in May, but his talent and work ethic took over, making the rest of his season historic.
I had Henderson, Casas and Bibee on my ballot.
“It’s pretty cool, especially just having my name etched up there with Cal and Gregg Olson,” Henderson said in a video call with local media. “It’s pretty cool to be able to say that, especially being from a small town. It was something that was on my mind, but I just went out there and tried to play as hard as I could each and every day. Felt like I had a good shot if I just went out and did that.”
Asked what he's most proud of beyond his numbers, Henderson said, "For me, it's getting through that beginning part and then just honestly staying consistent for the rest of the season. Being able to get through that little struggle in the beginning was honestly the biggest thing for me because some guys can get caught up in that and just have a really hard time getting over it. But I'm very thankful that the Orioles let me go through it and make it through it, and being able to put a good year together."
Henderson said he's always had a calm demeanor, which enabled him to maintain his confidence and composure.
"And just really play with my hair on fire whenever I get in between the lines," he said.
"I just felt like this is where I belonged ever since I've been here," he said. "Ever since I've played ball at a young age, this is what I wanted to do. So, when I got here, it was honestly just going out there and letting myself take over."
Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll was the unanimous winner in the National League, only the fifth time it's happened in both leagues. They were teammates on a 2018 showcase team and became friends.
"We both swapped jerseys when we went and played in Arizona," Henderson said, "so being able to have that and both winning Rookie of the Year is something pretty special."