For the second straight year, an Orioles season that exceeded almost all expectations resulted in the club having finalists for both American League Rookie of the Year and AL Manager of the Year.
On Monday night, Baltimore infielder Gunnar Henderson and manager Brandon Hyde were named finalists for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s yearly honors, which also include the Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards. Hyde placed second in voting for last year’s AL Manager of the Year recognition, while catcher Adley Rutschman also finished as the runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year.
After the Orioles’ 101-win campaign, it’s hard to envision neither Hyde nor Henderson taking home their respective awards when winners are announced next week. Texas’ Bruce Bochy and Tampa Bay’s Kevin Cash join Hyde as the managers who finished in the top three of voting, which was completed before the postseason, while Boston first baseman Triston Casas and Cleveland right-hander Tanner Bibee are Henderson’s top competitors.
Henderson, 22, could become the Orioles’ first Rookie of the Year since reliever Gregg Olson in 1989 when the voting results are revealed next Monday Drafted with the first pick of the second round in 2019 after Baltimore took Rutschman with the No. 1 overall pick, Henderson also followed him as the game’s top prospect. He entered this season with that status while also being viewed as the favorite to be AL Rookie of the Year, then had to overcome a slow start to still be seen as such at the end of the year.
Henderson held his own in a brief major league stint in 2022, one the Orioles kept short enough for him to retain rookie eligibility into the offseason. By doing so, they would receive an extra draft pick after the first round if Henderson wins Rookie of the Year, part of an incentive in the league’s new collective bargaining agreement to encourage teams to have top prospects on their opening day rosters.
After batting .201 with five home runs and a .702 OPS over the season’s first two months, Henderson posted a .276 average, 23 home runs and an .856 OPS across the final four. His 28 home runs on the year tied for the team lead, matched Cal Ripken Jr. for the second most by a rookie in Orioles history and led all AL rookies, a group he also paced in RBIs, triples and wins above replacement while ranking second in hits and doubles.
That performance, paired with his strong defensive work at shortstop and third base, made Henderson the Major League Baseball Players Association’s AL Outstanding Rookie and Sporting News’ AL Rookie of the Year. Both of those honors are voted on by fellow players. He’s also a finalist for a Silver Slugger Award.
“Everything that he does at his age and the way he does it, it’s a treat to watch,” executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said after the season. “For me, as somebody who’s been watching baseball my whole life, it’s a treat for me to watch Gunnar Henderson play baseball. I’m so happy that we have him. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Hyde, 50, knows what it’s like to have success after initially struggling. After the first-time manager took over in Baltimore ahead of the 2019 campaign, the Orioles played at a 55-win pace across the next three seasons, finishing with one of the majors’ five worst records each year. Similar struggles were expected in 2022, but Baltimore instead finished as the best AL team to miss the playoffs with an 83-79 record.
Despite that breakout season, most projection systems and sportsbooks forecast regression from Hyde’s club. Instead, the Orioles went the entire regular season without being swept and posted a winning record every full month to win the AL East, generally regarded as baseball’s top division.
Nearly half of the Orioles’ 101 regular-season victories came in games decided by two or fewer runs, and Baltimore’s .662 winning percentage in such games was 100 points better than the next-best AL club. Often in those contents, Hyde excelled in his deployment of the Orioles’ depth through his bullpen and bench moves.
“I’m just trying to get better every day, honestly, and I’m just trying to put our team in a position to win as much as I possibly can,” Hyde said after the season. “Whatever people say, they say, and if it’s nice things, that’s great.”
Hyde, who fellow managers voted Sporting News’ AL Manager of the Year the past two years, would be Baltimore’s first league-official recipient since his predecessor, Buck Showalter, won the award in 2014. Results will be announced Nov. 14.
Orioles right-hander Kyle Bradish was not among the top-three finishers in AL Cy Young Award voting, with New York’s Gerrit Cole, Minnesota’s Sonny Gray and Toronto’s Kevin Gausman — a former Oriole — named finalists. Bradish, 27, was a finalist for the MLBPA’s AL Outstanding Pitcher honor but lost to Cole.
In his second major league season, Bradish finished third among the AL’s qualified pitchers with a 2.83 ERA, second with a .215 average against and 14 home runs surrendered, and fourth with a 1.043 WHIP. Bradish’s 17 starts of at least six innings with no more than two runs allowed tied for the league’s second most. He’s expected to receive some down-ballot votes, as is Baltimore closer Félix Bautista.