Pedro Martinez says Gunnar Henderson can be better than these two Hall of Famers

Henderson is even getting the attention of Hall of Fame pitchers right now, but with one very important caveat.
Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays
Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages

After jumping out of the gates last year to handlily win AL Rookie of the Year, the Baltimore Orioles' Gunnar Henderson is quickly establishing himself as one of the best players in baseball. By almost any measure, Henderson's name is at or near the top of most offensive leaderboards and is firmly in the AL MVP discussion for this season.

Even if Henderson doesn't end up winning top honors this year, what is clear is that he is among the most talented players in baseball, with the only real question being how long he can keep this up. According to Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, Henderson could end up better than Cal Ripken Jr. or Derek Jeter when it is all said and done if (and only if) he can maintain his current pace.

Pedro Martinez believes Orioles star Gunnar Henderson could be on Hall of Fame trajectory

Obviously name-dropping guys like Ripken or Jeter is what attracts all the attention here, but Martinez is uniquely qualified to talk about both players, as he actually faced them. He was also careful with his words. He definitely didn't say that Henderson is better than those players RIGHT NOW. Instead, he said that he believes has the pure talent to be better than either of the two legends. He also made a point of saying that both Ripken and Jeter were among the best players in baseball for a long time, and Henderson is going to have to prove he can do that before even getting in that conversation.

Martinez makes an important point here and should serve as a cautionary tale to throwing around comps to legends -- especially Ripken, who fans seem to really want to compare Henderson to already. There have been plenty of guys in MLB history who had a single great season or a strong multi-year run before fading away. Eric Davis looked like he was going to be a Hall of Famer before injuries robbed him of his dynamic athleticism. Tuffy Rhodes and Bobby Crosby each had great seasons, but no one thinks they should be put in Cooperstown based on those campaigns.

Could Henderson end up in the Hall of Fame one day? Sure, of course he could, and Martinez is absolutely right to recognize his talent. However, the ex-Sox ace was also right that Henderson has a long ways to go before being compared to the league's all-time great shortstops. That comes with a long run of excellence that few have ever been able to accomplish. For now, that level of praise is going to have to be enough.

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