Baltimore Orioles' Gunnar Henderson in Historic Company After Taking Lead in HR Race

Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Gunnar Henderson is still just 22 years old, which makes the Baltimore Orioles' star's recent power surge even more impressive.
May 18, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson (2) trots around the bases.
May 18, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson (2) trots around the bases. / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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The Baltimore Orioles have been slugging the ball better than anyone else in baseball so far this season, and shortstop Gunnar Henderson has been the definitive leader of the pack.

Henderson now leads all of MLB with 14 home runs in 2024 after crushing a solo shot to left in the ninth inning of Saturday's game against the Seattle Mariners. Baltimore still lost 4-3, but not for Henderson's lack of trying – he got on base three times, after all.

Through roughly one quarter of the season, Henderson is one homer ahead of Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani and Houston Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker on the league leaderboards.

The reigning AL Rookie of the Year joined another exclusive list Saturday, as noted by MLB.com's Sarah Langs.

Henderson is now tied for the sixth-most home runs in a team's first 43 games of a season among players 22 years old or younger. And the player Henderson is tied with just so happens to be Albert Pujols, a modern legend who will surely reach Cooperstown when he becomes eligible in 2028.

Bryce Harper, Alex Rodriguez and Harmon Killebrew share the record with 16 homers each. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eddie Matthews are next up with 15.

Henderson showed flashes of power prior to this year, finishing 2023 with 28 bombs, but hardly anything approaching this level. His slugging percentage this season is up 93 points on his mark from last season, and he is hitting homers at double the rate he was in 2023.

On the season, Henderson is batting .265 with 14 home runs, 30 RBI, six stolen bases, a .928 OPS and a 2.9 WAR.

The former top prospect will take the field again Sunday, when the Orioles and Mariners close out their series in Baltimore. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET.

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Sam Connon

SAM CONNON

Sam Connon is a Staff Writer for Fastball on the Sports Illustrated/FanNation networks. He previously covered UCLA Athletics for Sports Illustrated/FanNation's All Bruins, 247Sports' Bruin Report Online, Rivals' Bruin Blitz, the Bleav Podcast Network and the Daily Bruin, with his work as a sports columnist receiving awards from the College Media Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Connon also wrote for Sports Illustrated/FanNation's New England Patriots site, Patriots Country, and he was on the Patriots and Boston Red Sox beats at Prime Time Sports Talk.