At the end of every professional sports season, annual awards are handed out. Most awards are voted on by writers and committees but starting in 1992, Major League Baseball decided to hand out an award for the Most Outstanding Player in each league as voted on by the players themselves.
Some players have expressed more interest in these Players Choice Awards because they are voted on by their peers, the only people that have a true understanding of an athlete's accomplishments. Since its inception in 1992, the Players Choice Awards has grown to seven different awards for each league, with Baltimore Orioles players receiving nominations in three of the categories.
3 Orioles players pop up in player's choice awards voting
Outstanding Rookie Award
This nomination should come as no surprise, since Orioles phenom Gunnar Henderson began the season as baseball's top prospect and favorite to win the Rookie of the Year. At the end of the regular season, Henderson no longer has his prospect status but is still seen by many as the favorite for the American League Rookie of the year award.
He finished his first full season second among AL rookies in hits (143) and doubles (29), and he led the junior circuit in triples (9), home runs (28) and RBI's (82). He did all of this while playing elite level defense on the left side of the infield, switching between third base and shortstop.
Henderson's competition for the Outstanding Rookie Award is Triston Casas (Boston Red Sox) and Josh Jung (Texas Rangers). Casas got off to a slow start but exploded in the second half. As a right-handed thrower and left-handed power hitter, Casas looks like a more athletic Mo Vaughn and should have Red Sox fans excited for years to come.
Jung could be Henderson's biggest competition since he was seen as the AL Rookie of the Year favorite until he got injured. Jung continued to perform at a high level upon returning from the IL, but Henderson had built quite a lead in this race so voters will have to decide if Jung did enough to overcome the time he missed.
Outstanding Pitcher Award
Speaking of great second halves, Kyle Bradish had his breakout season and threw his name into the Cy Young conversation. Taking over as the ace of the pitching staff on a team that won 101 games certainly helps his case, but his accolades speak for themselves. Bradish finished the season third in the AL in ERA (2.83), tied for third in WHIP (1.04) and second in BAA (.215). Bradish may not win the award this year, but he has established himself as a top tier pitcher.
Other nominees for this award are Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) and Sonny Gray (Minnesota Twins). Gray also had a great year and deserves to be in this conversation, but Cole is clearly the favorite for this award. Gray joins Bradish in the top three of several pitching categories, but Cole is the leader in virtually all of them. He is expected to win the Cy Young and should be the favorite for this award as well.
Comeback Player Award
The Orioles essentially bought Ryan O'Hearn from the Kansas City Royals over the off-season and boy did that move pay off. After starting the season in Triple-A, the O's first called on O'Hearn two weeks into the season. He played well but was sent back to Norfolk before being recalled in early May for good.
O'Hearn had a breakout season setting career highs in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI's and average, surpassing his previous highs in each category by a wide margin. He wasn't an everyday player, but he did appear in 112 games and provided several key hits for the O's. There may not be a Players Choice Award for most improved player, but he would certainly win that.
The other choices for Comeback Player Award are Liam Hendriks (Chicago White Sox) and Tyler Glasnow (Tampa Bay Rays). After missing almost all of last season due to Tommy John surgery, Glasnow came back with a vengeance this season. He was arguably the ace of their staff, earning 10 wins in 21 starts with a 12.2 K/9, and showed no ill effects from his surgery.
Hendriks was possibly the best story of the season, coming back from non-Hodgkin lymphoma to return to the major leagues. Unfortunately, his return was cut short after appearing in only five games when it was learned that he needed Tommy John surgery.
Henderson is looking to become only the second Oriole to win Outstanding Rookie after Ryan Mountcastle won the award in 2021. O'Hearn would be the fourth Oriole to win Comeback Player, the first three being Eric Davis (1998), Mark Trumbo (2016) and Trey Mancini (2021). Bradish is looking to be the first O's pitcher to win the Outstanding Pitcher award. The winners of all of the Players Choice Awards will be announced on November 2, 2023 during the 6:00PM hour of SportsCenter.