Pair of Orioles named players of month for June

Two Orioles players were recognized as players of the month in their respective categories for June

Felix Bautista continued his dominance in June
Felix Bautista continued his dominance in June / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

June was another successful month for the Baltimore Orioles. They went 13-11 and held onto second place in the American League East. The team as a whole has had more success than expected this season, but June saw two Orioles bring home player of the month awards.

Two Orioles players win player of the month honors for June

Gunnar Henderson: AL Rookie of the Month

Gunnar Henderson has returned to form and displayed the skills that made him the preseason favorite for AL rookie of the year. After a poor start to the season, Henderson broke through in June .320/.354/.640 with four doubles, one triple, 10 runs scored, six home runs, 16 RBI's and three stolen bases for the month. Henderson raised his season batting average by 39 points in the month of June from .201 to a respectable .240. His six homers and 16 RBI's in the month were more than he had in each category in April and May combined, including a 462 foot bomb to Eutaw St:

Gunnar had been gradually moved down the batting order early in the season due to his struggles. Manager Brandon Hyde noticed that Henderson was getting hot at a time that coincided with Cedric Mullins getting injured and took advantage of Henderson's hot bat. Henderson spent most of June batting first or fourth in the lineup depending on whether the Orioles were facing a righty or lefty. He was hitting so well that even though he barely played against left handed pitchers in the first two months of the season, he was suddenly trusted as the team's cleanup hitter against lefties.

The youngster flourished in his new role as the team's primary leadoff hitter. For the season, Henderson is hitting .306/.359/.694 with a 1.053 OPS out of the leadoff spot. Even with the return of Mullins to the lineup, Henderson finds himself atop the order with regularity.

Henderson started the month of June by winning the AL Player of the Week and ended with the Rookie of the Month award. He has returned his name to the AL Rookie of the Year race, and he will hopefully only continue to get better.

Felix Bautista: AL Reliever of the Month

To the surprise of nobody, Felix Bautista was named the American League reliever of the month. It always confused me to see how many Orioles fans were upset when the team traded all-star closer Jorge Lopez to the Minnesota Twins last season. Bautista thrived as a rookie last season in the setup role and there was no reason to think he would be any less dominant as a closer. The Mountain was lights out as a closer after taking over for Lopez in 2022 and that trend has continued this season.

So far in 2023, Bautista is 3-1 with 22 saves with 79 strikeouts in 38.2 innings. That's a ridiculous 18.4 K/9 which would be a single season record. Felix was his typical dominant self in June when he converted seven of eight save chances while allowing just one run on six hits in 10.2 innings. Bautista had a 22/0 K/BB ratio for the month. 22 of the 32 outs he recorded were via strikeout which is a 69% strikeout ratio.

With a fastball that has been up to 103 MPH and a splitter in the high 80's that drops off the table, Bautista is unhittable when he's on. Bautista was recently named to the AL all-star team along with Yennier Cano, Austin Hays, and Adley Rutschman. The all-star selection and Reliever of the Month could just be the beginning of the awards and accolades Bautista earns this season.

I am not normally in favor of relievers winning the Cy Young award, but if Bautista continues to strikeout opposing hitters at a historic rate and close out games for one of baseball's best teams, I don't see how he could be left out of the conversation.