Orioles rookie Gunnar Henderson named American League Player of the Week after batting .526 – Boston Herald
Gunnar Henderson’s mammoth blast Sunday — the farthest home run ever hit onto Eutaw Street — didn’t just cap off the best week of the rookie’s nascent career. It culminated the best performance by any player in the American League last week.
Henderson was named AL Player of the Week, Major League Baseball announced on Monday. The 21-year-old infielder went 10-for-19 with three home runs, six RBIs, five runs and two stolen bases in five games. He led the AL in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage last week with a .526/.550/1.053 slash line.
A month ago, Henderson, who opened the year as the consensus top prospect in baseball and the front-runner to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award, was hitting .170 with a .651 OPS as he slumped to begin his first full season as a big leaguer. A week ago, he was hitting .201 with a .712 OPS as he slowly started to gain his footing. But after posting a whopping 1.603 OPS last week, he’s now slashing .236/.349/.455 for a well-above-average .804 OPS. The only qualified hitters on the Orioles to have a higher OPS than Henderson are Cedric Mullins (.835) and Austin Hays (.830).
The recognition is even more impressive considering Henderson missed the first game of the week with lower-back discomfort, but he hit safely in all five games he did play.
After hitting a go-ahead home run in San Francisco on June 2, Henderson hit a clutch two-run home run to the opposite field in Baltimore’s win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday to prevent a series sweep.
As his bat continued to heat up, manager Brandon Hyde elected to put Henderson in the leadoff spot against right-handed starters Saturday and Sunday against the Kansas City Royals with Mullins, the club’s usual leadoff hitter against righties, on the injured list with a right groin strain.
He rewarded his skipper by having the best series of anyone in the majors, going 8-for-13 with two homers and four RBIs against the Royals. Henderson went 3-for-3 with two stolen bases Friday, 2-for-5 with a solo shot Saturday, and 3-for-5 with three RBIs and his record-breaking long ball onto Eutaw Street on Sunday. His average exit velocity in the series was a whopping 99.4 mph, including seven batted balls over 100 mph.
His 113.8 mph home run Sunday was the hardest-hit ball by an Oriole this season. The big fly’s estimated distance of 462 feet, according to Statcast tracking data, is the farthest by an Oriole this year.
Henderson’s dominance helped lead the Orioles to a series sweep, as Baltimore enters its home tilt versus the Toronto Blue Jays on a four-game winning streak.
Arizona Diamondbacks rookie Corbin Carroll won the weekly award for the National League.
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