Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson among MVP frontrunners, but who is his main competition?

Henderson has been a revelation for the Orioles, but winning AL MVP isn't going to be easy this year.
Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Any Baltimore Orioles fan with a pulse is fully aware of what Gunnar Henderson is doing this season. After running away with AL Rookie of the Year last year, Henderson looks even better this season with a .267/.365/.587 line in 2024 with 19 homers. At this point, it is no wonder why many writers are already declaring Henderson to be one of the frontrunners for AL MVP this year.

However, there are still hurdles that Henderson needs to clear to reach that ultimate goal. Not only does he have to keep playing out of his mind the rest of the way, but he also has to compete against what is turning out to be an incredibly stacked American League MVP field in 2024.

Orioles Award Winner: Who is Gunnar Henderson's main competition for AL MVP in 2024?

Right now, it is fair to say that the only viable MVP candidates in the AL this year are hitters. While Henderson has absolutely been one of the top bats in the American League this year, he faces some stiff competition from a pair of Yankees in Aaron Judge and Juan Soto, as well as the Royals' Bobby Witt Jr. and the Astros' Kyle Tucker.

First, we need to look at how all five of these guys stack up against each other by the numbers in early June before projecting how things count pan out going forward. As you can plainly see, this is a very close race despite Henderson's rampage this season (stats as of June 4th).

Batting Average

Home Runs




Gunnar Henderson






Aaron Judge






Juan Soto






Bobby Witt Jr.






Kyle Tucker






Henderson definitely has his work cut out for him to take home the AL's top honors this year, as he does lag behind some of these other guys in key categories that matter a lot to voters. However, there are some important things to consider that could allow the tides to turn in his favor by the end of the season.

One, Judge and Soto playing for the same team isn't ideal for either of their chances if the vote is close. Vote splitting is a real thing, and unless all of the Yankees writers get together to make a decision collectively -- which would be very questionable from an ethics perspective -- they could cannibalize each other's voting bloc. Kyle Tucker already felt like more of a dark horse candidate who was being buoyed by his home run total before he fouled a ball off his shin. Now, Tucker could miss time with the injury.

One area where Henderson does have an edge over guys like Judge and Soto is his defensive value as a shortstop. Assuming he continues to make highlight reel plays at short and can cut down on the silly errors, he is going to grade out very well defensively, which should help his WAR totals and give him something that sticks out in the crowded field. Witt Jr. has a similar case to be made, but the Orioles (probably) being a better team this year than the Royals could swing some voters to Henderson if forced to choose.

There is still a lot of baseball left to be played, but it is abundantly clear that, barring an unforeseen drop-off, Gunnar Henderson is going to be in the running amongst the game's elite all season long.

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