Gunnar Henderson's Latest Leadoff Home Run Helps Baltimore Orioles Star Make History

Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson has earned himself several spots in the baseball history books thanks to his unprecedented power at such a young age.
Jun 10, 2024; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson (2) is congratulated by outfielder Anthony Santander (25) after he scored a run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 10, 2024; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson (2) is congratulated by outfielder Anthony Santander (25) after he scored a run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
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The TV broadcast hadn't even fully loaded in yet, and Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson had already gone yard.

Henderson crushed the very first pitch he saw from Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Ryan Pepiot on Monday, sending the fastball 430 feet to straightaway center. That gave Baltimore an early 1-0 lead, and they went on to complete the four-game road sweep with a 5-2 victory.

It marked Henderson's 21st home run this season, as well as the ninth leadoff home run of the 22-year-old's career.

According to OptaSTATS, Henderson is now tied for the second-most leadoff home runs before turning 23 years old in MLB history. Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. owns the record with 19, while San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. has nine as well.

Henderson also moved up a few other lists that MLB.com's Sarah Langs has been keeping track of lately.

All 21 of Henderson's home runs in 2024 have been out of the leadoff spot. That is the second-most by any player through 65 games, trailing only former Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson, who had 24 at this point in 1996.

Henderson is also tied for the sixth-most home runs by a player 22 years old or younger through his team's first 65 games.

Harmon Killebrew set the record with 24 in 1959, which wasn't challenged until Johnny Bench had 23 in 1970. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bryce Harper and Alex Rodriguez had 22 apiece, while Mel Ott is tied with Henderson with 21.

The reigning AL Rookie of the Year finished Monday's contest 3-for-5 with a team-high seven total bases. He is now batting .274 with 21 home runs, 46 RBI, eight stolen bases, a .974 OPS and a 4.6 WAR.

Henderson is on pace for 52 home runs, 115 RBI and an 11.5 WAR, making him one of the top contenders to take home AL MVP. If he were to reach those marks, Henderson would break the records for most home runs and RBI by a leadoff hitter, which were both set last year by Acuña and Mookie Betts, respectively.

The Orioles are set to open up a three-game series against the Braves on Tueday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 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.