Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson were the Orioles’ first two draft picks in 2019. Each reached the majors in 2022. In 2023, both finished in the top 10 of American League Most Valuable Player voting.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani as the unanimous AL MVP on Thursday night, with Henderson placing eighth and Rutschman ninth in the voting. Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. was the National League winner, also unanimously.
It’s the first time two Orioles have landed in the top 10 since 2013, when Chris Davis came in third and Manny Machado placed ninth. Henderson’s finish is Baltimore’s highest in MVP voting since Machado placed fifth in 2016. An Oriole has not been named MVP since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1991.
Like Machado a decade ago, both Henderson and Rutschman were in their first full seasons in 2023. Named the AL Rookie of the Year on Monday, Henderson hit .255/.325/.489 with 28 home runs and 82 RBIs. The 22-year-old infielder was named on 21 of 30 BBWAA ballots, appearing as high as fifth.
Rutschman missed much of the first two months of 2022 but finished 12th in AL MVP voting in addition to being the runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year. In 2023, the 25-year-old catcher hit .277/.374/.435 with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs. He received one fourth-place vote among the 17 ballots he appeared on.
This isn’t the first time Rutschman and Henderson have gone back-to-back. The Orioles drafted Rutschman first overall in 2019 and took Henderson 42nd overall atop the second round. Rutschman entered 2022 as Baseball America’s No. 1 overall prospect, and Henderson held the same status heading into 2023, the first time two players from the same team’s draft class were the sport’s top prospects in consecutive years. This season, they often occupied the top two spots in manager Brandon Hyde’s lineup, with the pair both winning Silver Slugger Awards for their offensive performance.
No other Orioles received votes for the final BBWAA award. In addition to Henderson’s win, Hyde was named the AL Manager of the Year, and right-hander Kyle Bradish placed fourth in AL Cy Young Award balloting, with closer Félix Bautista also appearing on ballots.
All four Orioles players who received awards votes — Henderson, Rutschman, Bradish and Bautista — made their major league debuts in 2022; Rutschman and Bautista aren’t due to become free agents until after the 2027 season, with Henderson and Bradish under team control through 2028. Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, who drafted Rutschman and Henderson and acquired Bradish in a trade, has said the Orioles have young players who they would like to sign to contract extentions.
“A big part of the calculus of keeping this franchise healthy is pursuing or examining opportunities to possibly keep some of these guys longer,” Elias said last month.
Atlanta to host 2025 All-Star Game
Orioles CEO and Chairman John Angelos has said he views the Braves’ ballpark and the surrounding area as a model for what Camden Yards can be. Another aspect to copy was presented Thursday.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Atlanta’s Truist Park will host the 2025 All-Star Game. Camden Yards, which has not had the event since its second season in 1993, was reportedly on the shortlist for the 2025 Midsummer Classic but now will have to wait until at least 2027, with the 2026 All-Star Game to be held in Philadelphia in recognition of the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Not including the Tampa Bay Rays, who have never hosted an All-Star Game since entering the league in 1998, only three teams have waited longer than the Orioles: the Toronto Blue Jays (1991), Chicago Cubs (1990) and Oakland Athletics (1987). MLB owners unanimously approved the A’s’ move to Las Vegas on Thursday.
The Braves last hosted in 2000 and were scheduled to in 2021 before MLB moved the event to Denver after the Georgia State Legislature passed an act that restricted voters’ rights.
The Orioles’ lease at Camden Yards expires Dec. 31, though the club does have a nonbinding memorandum of understanding in place with the state. With a long-term agreement, the team would gain access to $600 million in public funds to upgrade the ballpark’s infrastructure, which could help future chances of hosting an All-Star Game.