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Gunnar Henderson Is The MLB MVP Candidate No One Knows About

New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge may somehow have improved on his 2022 season, when he set a new record for home runs in the American League.

READ: Aaron Judge May Be Having A Better Season Than His Record-Setting Year In 2022

Juan Soto has also had an exceptional first season in the Bronx, with the game's highest on base percentage. Bobby Witt Jr. has delivered in spades after signing a massive contract extension in the offseason. But the real MVP frontrunner, and a player having one of the best seasons we've seen in decades, is Baltimore Orioles star Gunnar Henderson. And hardly anyone's hearing about it.

BALTIMORE - Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson runs the bases after hitting a first-inning solo home run against the New York Yankees  at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in April. (Photo: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

It's not an exaggeration to say Henderson is, and should be, the MVP frontrunner. Per Fangraphs, he leads the Major Leagues in wins above replacement, at 6.0. Baseball-Reference has him rated even higher at 6.1. 

He's been exceptional on offense, hitting .290/.388/.612 with 26 home runs, 13 steals, 72 runs and 58 runs batted in. That batting line is 80 percent better than the league average, given the poor offensive environment of 2024. 

But it's not just on offense where Henderson separates himself; per Fangraphs, he's added more than 3 runs of value with baserunning. That puts him in the top eight in MLB. Henderson's one of the fastest runners in the sport, and he adds to that with exceptional instincts. 

He's also playing an exceptional defensive shortstop. Fangraphs estimates he's been worth nearly eight runs saved on defense, and Baseball Savant says he's added seven outs above