The rest of the country has noticed what’s going on in Baltimore’s batting order, and it’s reflected in Major League Baseball’s monthly honors for March/April.

Gunnar Henderson and Colton Cowser won the American League’s Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month awards, respectively, for their stellar starts to the season. Henderson, 22, also became the youngest player to reach the 10-homer mark before May 1.

Henderson led the American League in homers, slugging percentage and total bases with 73. The Selma, Alabama, native ranked fourth in on-base-plus-slugging percentage with a .980 mark, and his 16 extra-base hits were tied for second in the league.

Cowser, meanwhile, has turned fans into fervent moo-ers and milkmen. The rookie broke out with a .303 average in 28 games during March and April, along with six homers. Cowser led all rookies with 18 RBIs, a 1.004 OPS, 48 total bases and 13 extra-base hits.

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The early success for both has helped guide the Orioles to a narrow lead in the American League East, secured when Baltimore took three of four games from the New York Yankees this week at Camden Yards. Cowser and Henderson have accounted for 16 of Baltimore’s major-league-leading 48 homers.

The bright starts are welcome for both of them. Henderson struggled to begin last season, hitting .189 at the end of April. He went on to become the AL Rookie of the Year.

Cowser struggled in his 26-game sample midway through last season. He hit .115 — not an unexpected outcome for a player transitioning to the highest level. But those scuffles are long gone, along with his platoon role. Cowser has earned everyday playing time this year.

The Orioles begin a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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