Even in hitting non-strikes, Gunnar Henderson continues to show his bat is coming around

gunnar celebrates black

He had an OPS of .659 at the end of April, but going into the weekend series with Kansas City, rookie Gunnar Henderson’s OPS was up to .732, which put him five percent above the league average OPS for the year. He has certainly made positive strides on offense in recent weeks with an OPS of .790 since May 1 as this weekend began.

Henderson recently made a choice to, in a sense, expand his zone a bit and be more aggressive at times early in the count. Even against a non-strike. It worked for him Thursday at Milwaukee when he got a pitch up in the zone in the eighth-inning off Brewers reliever Peter Strzelecki. It was a fastball that was just out of the strike zone on the first pitch and soon after that ball was just out of the ballpark. A huge go-ahead two-run homer to left he hit 98 mph off the bat.

The blast in Milwaukee was his second go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later on the road trip.

“Yeah, there are times when I’ve been too passive,” Henderson told me during the road trip. “Just, I’ve had times recently where I’ve been starting to swing earlier in counts if it’s in the area that I want to go and do damage with. That has helped me and if you get contact earlier in the counts, you also limit strikeouts. A big thing has been learning how to be aggressive, but not too aggressive.”

“Definitely boosting it (my confidence) and glad to help the team in that situation. Looking forward to getting everything rolling again.

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Adley Rutschman on solid plate discipline for him and team

Rutschman rounding bases whites

Gunnar and Adley. Adley and Gunnar. Two of the Orioles top young talents, both Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson were taken in the 2019 MLB Draft. In fact, they were the first two selections made by the then new regime of executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias.

Rutschman was taken with the No. 1 overall selection out of Oregon State University and Henderson was taken No. 42 overall out of John T. Morgan Academy in Selma, Alabama. Rutschman was the more experienced and polished player as a college draft pick and it took Gunnar a bit longer to gain that polish.

But both have already been ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and the two are among the biggest reasons the Orioles have the No. 1 ranked farm in the sport right now and a big league team that is off to a great start.

And as written here yesterday, the Orioles have gotten off to a strong offensive start this year scoring 5.28 runs per game. A big reason for that is improved plate discipline stats which have the Orioles among the top teams in baseball in walks, pitches per plate appearance and OBP.

Rutschman entered Friday’s games batting .287/.405/.436/.841 in 25 games. He ranked first in the American League with 20 walks heading into Friday’s play. He ranked tied for fifth in the AL in OBP and 21st in the league in pitches per plate appearance.

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Mountcastle hitting into more bad luck

mountcastle 9 rbi night

DETROIT – What is the exact date and time when it begins to even out?

Rough estimates are accepted and appreciated.

Isn’t that the reminder preached to frustrated hitters who don’t think they’ll ever catch another break? The latest tough out, so cruel at times that it physically hurts, is balanced by soft singles and streaks built on kinder fortune.

Ryan Mountcastle tries to laugh about it. The trademark grin is the most he can muster at this point.

The lucky hits need to catch up.

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