Get your tickets to the Gunn show in Baltimore

Gunnar Henderson has done quite a bit of celebrating recently
Gunnar Henderson has done quite a bit of celebrating recently / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Coming into the 2023 MLB season, Gunnar Henderson was almost everyone's choice to be the American League Rookie of the Year. Henderson got called up to the Baltimore Orioles in August of 2022 and helped push a surprise Baltimore Orioles team to the brink of the playoffs. In 34 games that season, Henderson impressed both with the bat and in the field.

Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson emerging in a big way to start June

Henderson was the #1 overall prospect at the beginning of the 2023 season, and everyone was excited for the things Top Gunn would do in his first full season in the majors. However, Henderson got off to a slow start. At the end of April, Henderson was hitting just .197 with three doubles and two home runs. Just about the only positive note on Henderson was that his knowledge of the strike zone was very good and he had 15 walks in the month.

May came around and things only got worse for Gunnar. After a 0-3 performance on May 12 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Top Gunn had a batting average of just .170. Henderson's prospect status was gone, and it appeared his chances to be the first Oriole to win the Rookie of the Year award since Greg Olson (1989) were gone too. Henderson was platooning at third base with Ramon Urias, but Urias went on the IL on May 9. The Birds began playing Joey Ortiz at third base against left handed pitchers even though he had little experience at the hot corner, which kept Gunnar in a part time role.

But on May 13, things started to turn around. Henderson homered off Pirates starter Roansy Contreras and his confidence started to build. That home run was the start of a six game hit streak for Henderson that included two doubles and a triple. In the final two and a half weeks of May, Henderson raised his average 31 points to get back above the Mendoza line. Even with Urias returning from the IL on May 26, the progress Henderson had shown allowed him to maintain the starting spot.

As June rolled around, Henderson hit his stride (along with a lot of baseballs). In the first week and a half on June, Henderson has raised his average another 35 points and is now batting .236/.349/.455 with an .804 OPS (three points higher than Adley Rutschman). Gunnar has appeared in seven games in June and has hits in six of them.

His lone plate appearance without a hit was a 0-1 performance against the San Francisco Giants on June 3 before being removed with a lower back injury. After taking a couple days off Henderson returned and started his current five game hit streak. Henderson has multiple hits in each of his last three games, including a monstrous 462 foot blast to Eutaw St.

On Monday Gunnar was named the AL Player of the Week. Henderson hit .526 with three home runs, six RBI's, two stolen bases, five runs scored and an eye popping 1.603 OPS to earn the honor. He has been hitting the ball and getting on base so well that Manager Brandon Hyde has recently moved Henderson into the leadoff spot.

Henderson has looked more comfortable at the plate and more confident on the bases. Both of his steals came in his first three hit game of the season against the Kansas City Royals. Henderson was also thrown out two times attempting to steal in that series, but his confidence and swagger have returned.

Clearly Henderson will not be able to maintain the numbers that he posted over the last week, but it has reminded Orioles fans why there was so much preseason hype. Henderson is still just 21 years old (he'll turn 22 at the end of June), and is still coming into his own. When Henderson was asked about his recent blast, he stated “I feel like when I finally get to the man-strength phase, I might be able to get a little bit further,”. O's fans should be able to enjoy "The Gunn Show" for many years to come.