"This kid is going to be that player for the Orioles" - MLB analyst compares Gunnar Henderson's early performances with Yankees legend Derek Jeter

MLB analyst compares Gunnar Henderson
MLB analyst compares Gunnar Henderson's early performances with Yankees legend Derek Jeter

Gunnar Henderson took until June last season to notch his 10th home run and 20th RBI. This season, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year has already scored 10 runs and 23 RBIs, and we are still in April

The Orioles beat the New York Yankees 2-0 on Monday night, thanks to excellent pitching from Grayson Rodriguez and the rest of their bullpen. As far as offensive production is concerned, Henderson was once again the main man.

The 22-year-old drilled a leadoff ‘Gunnar Stunner’ in the bottom of the first to provide the Orioles an early lead that they would build on and hold on to.

Henderson’s home run had more gravity than simply giving Baltimore the lead. It was historic, as he became only the third player in O’s franchise history to hit 10+ home runs before May 1.

According to MLB insider Sarah Langs, Henderson’s 10 home runs are three more than any other player aged 22 or younger in the team;s first 28 games in Orioles franchise history.

So far this season, Henderson has slashed .289/.352/.632 with an OPS of .983. His red hot start to the 2024 season has garnered plaudits from several insiders and analysts, Following Monday’s game, former New York Mets GM-turned-analyst Steve Phillips went to the extent of comparing Henderson to Yankees legend Derek Jeter on MLB Network Radio. Phillips said,

“He reminds me a lot of a No. 2 who played for the Yankees for a long time, who whatever they needed, he would give it. They need to get out early? Okay, Jeter would do it. You know what? Gunnar Henderson is doing it. He’s a baby. I understand you can’t compare a guy in his second full season to Derek Jeter, but I’m telling you, this kid is going to be that player for the Orioles.
“If they need a stolen base, he will steal the base. They need a great defensive play? He will make that play. They need a home run? He will hit the home run. They need the big base hit driving around on the ninth? He will do it. Leadoff guy to get on base? He will do it.”

Can Gunnar Henderson be in contention for AL MVP?

It would be quite the achievement if Gunnar Henderson can win the American League MVP just a year after winning Rookie of the Year. It is difficult, given the names Henderson would potentially be up against come the end of the season, but certainly not unprecedented.

Kris Bryant did it for the Chicago Cubs, winning ROTY in 2015 and National League MVP in ‘16. Ryan Howard went back-to-back in 2005 and ‘06. But that’s just the NL.

The last player to win AL ROTY and MVP in consecutive seasons is Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr., in 1982 and ‘83. If Gunnar Henderson can maintain his MVP-caliber start throughout the season, he has every chance of joining Cal in the history books.

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