Gunnar Henderson proves popular choice as Orioles continue to win awards - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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Gunnar Henderson proves popular choice as Orioles continue to win awards

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With the first pick in the 2019 draft, the Orioles chose catcher Adley Rutschman. That wasn’t a surprise, though there was some debate about whether they’d pick him or shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.

Witt was chosen second by the Kansas City Royals, and instant comparisons between his career and Rutschman’s were predicted.

It turns out the 2019 draft was a strong one. The Chicago White Sox chose first baseman Andrew Vaughn with the third pick. San Diego chose shortstop CJ Abrams, who was dealt to the Washington Nationals in the Juan Soto trade with the sixth pick, and the Texas Rangers grabbed third baseman Josh Jung with the eighth pick.

Arizona took outfielder Corbin Carroll with the 16th pick, and he’s expected to be named the National League Rookie of the Year on November 13th.

For much of the season, Jung seemed like the leader for the American League Rookie of the Year until he missed six weeks because of a broken thumb.

Jung returned to the lineup with about two weeks remaining in the regular season, but by then he’d been overtaken by Oriole shortstop/third baseman Gunnar Henderson.

Henderson wasn’t taken in the first round of the 2019 draft, which included compensation picks. Instead, he was the first pick in the second round, the 42nd overall pick, and while Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias is rightfully lauded for his selection of Rutschman, taking Henderson was one of the great steals in Orioles history.

On Thursday night, Henderson, who already won his first Most Valuable Oriole award, was named outstanding American League Rookie in the Players Choice Awards. Caroll was the outstanding National League Rookie.

The voting is done by major league players under the auspices of the Major League Players Association.

It won’t be the last award for Henderson, who hit .255 with an .814 OPS. He hit 28 home runs and drove in 82 RBIs and had a 6.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

On Monday night, he’s expected to be named as one of three finalists for the AL Rookie of the Year. The winner will be announced on November 13th.

He already won The Sporting News award for Rookie of the Year.

Henderson also should receive some Most Valuable Player votes when that award is announced on November 16th.

On Thursday, Henderson, Rutschman and Anthony Santander were named finalists in the Silver Slugger awards. Rutschman and Santander are competing among catchers and outfielders while Henderson, who split his time between shortstop and third base, will be in the utility classification.

Those awards will be announced on November 9th on MLB Network at 6 p.m.

Now that the World Series is over, the award season begins in earnest.

On Sunday night, Rutschman, first baseman Ryan Mountcastle and leftfielder Austin Hays will learn if they’ve won Gold Glove awards. ESPN will air the awards at 7:30 p.m.

Manager Brandon Hyde, who has already won the American League Manager of the Year from The Sporting News, will learn if he’s a finalist in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Award on Monday night.

The top three in Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player will be announced then.

Elias, who also was a winner by The Sporting News for Executive of the Year, will find out if he’s the Executive of the Year at the general managers’ meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Tuesday night.

The All-MLB Team nominees will be announced on November 8th, and the Orioles should be well represented there, too.

Perhaps the most interesting award remaining are the Rivera/Hoffman Reliever of the Year Awards. Those will be handed out on November 29th, and even though closer Félix Bautista didn’t pitch after August 25th because of an elbow injury, he could still win it. Bautista had a 1.48 ERA, 33 saves and struck out 46 percent of batters faced.

Free agency begins: Free agency is underway. Starters Jack Flaherty, Kyle Gibson, reliever Shintaro Fujinami, infielder Adam Frazier and outfielder Aaron Hicks declared for free agency.

The five may not speak to teams other than the Orioles until 5 p.m. Monday, when they’re free to sign elsewhere.

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