The Baltimore Orioles opened their series with an emphatic win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday by a score of 11-5. The offense has been scorching putting up double digit runs for the fourth time in the last five games. One of the key cogs in the O's lineup has been Gunnar Henderson.
The Gunn Show has been on full display and while Henderson has become a more rounded hitter and doing damage against left handed pitching as well as righties. Henderson had another big game on Monday, going 3-5 with three runs and an RBI.
One of Henderson's hits was a solo blast that extended the Orioles lead to 9-5 in the sixth inning. That blast was his 25th home run of the season, making him just the third player in Orioles history with at least 25 doubles and 25 home runs in their rookie season.
Gunnar Henderson becomes third Orioles rookie with 25 doubles and home runs
The first two are Eddie Murray (1977) and Cal Ripken Jr (1982), and any time you can be on a list with those two players, you're doing something right. A lot has been made of Henderson's age since he only recently turned 22 years old but believe it or not, he actually was older than both Murray and Ripken when they debuted. Ripken debuted at 20 years and 351 days, Murray was 21 years and 42 days, and Gunnar was 21 years and 63 days.
Murray finished his rookie season with 29 doubles and 27 home runs. Ripken finished his rookie season with 32 doubles and 28 rookie homers. Henderson currently has 25 doubles and 25 home runs with 19 games remaining on the schedule. He is certainly within striking distance of the numbers put up by Ripken and Murray but would need to stay hot over the last three weeks of the season.
Reaching the doubles and home run totals that Murray and Ripken were able to produce in their rookie seasons would be a great accomplishment, but that's not the only thing that could link these three seasons. Murray and Ripken were both awarded the Rookie of the Year for their efforts.
Henderson was the preseason favorite to win the award and, after a slow start, has returned to the top spot in the expert's predictions for the award. Even though he is the current favorite, he's not a lock to win just yet, as Triston Casas of the Boston Red Sox is making his own push for the award.
Murray and Ripken each went on to play 21 years of major league baseball, so Henderson has some time to try and reach the career totals. Both Murray and Ripken retired with over 3,000 hits, to include 560 doubles and 504 home runs for Murray, and 603 doubles and 431 home runs for Ripken. On top of their Rookie of the Year awards Ripken and Murray are in the Orioles Hall of fame, have their numbers retired by the teams and are immortalized in Cooperstown. Orioles fans are hoping to watch Henderson continue in the path laid by those greats over the next two decades.