Safe the brave in Atlanta Michael Harris II He had the ability to at least keep himself in the majors after impressing the front office and coaching staff in spring training in both 2021 and ’22.
At least, they knew he was the best defensive player in the organization, and with the Braves Collegiate Center players hitting .186 through May 27 and the team under .500, they decided to roll the dice.
The Braves called the 21-year-old from Double-A even though he played just 43 games over Class A. Harris rewarded the Braves’ belief with one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history, hitting .297/.339/.515 with 19 home runs and 20 stolen bases while playing a great defense.
“I feel like the whole season has been unreal,” Harris said. “I’ve been going day in and day out thinking I’m living the dream. But now that the season is over, I think I can actually look back and think about how crazy the year was and how fast it was.”
Harris beat his teammate Spencer Strider to win the National Junior League title of the year on Monday, taking 22 first-place votes and 134 points to Strider’s eight first-place votes and 103 points. St. Louis Cardinals utility player Brendan Donovan He took third place in the vote.
Harris and Strider are only the fourth pair of teammates to finish 1-2 in the voting since polling began in 1980, joining the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel And the Freddy Freeman In 2011, Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith were the Cubs in 1989 and Alvin Davis and Mark Langston were the Mariners in 1984.
Harris is the ninth player in Braves franchise history to win the Rookie of the Year award.
Harris was hitting .305 for Double-A Mississippi when the Braves called him up. Two days later, Strider made his first start after being knocked out of the Bullpen to start the season. The Braves took off immediately, winning 15 straight from June 1 through June 15, with Harris hitting .370 in that stretch. The Braves eventually rebounded 10.5 games behind the Mets in late May to win their fifth consecutive Premier League title.
“He’s very calm, and he’s very consistent,” head coach Brian Snicker said of Harris in early September. “The whole thing. He can beat you in different ways. With his glove, arm, legs and racket. These are very good qualities in a player who can do a lot to affect the match.”
Harris’ overall tools—his Statcast measurements included a 92 percent outside rating above average in defense, 95 percent ranking in sprint speed and 95 percent in arm strength—helped him in his 5.3-WAR season, leaving him just a 34th-placed player. With 5.0 WAR since the beginning of the partition era in 1969.
He’s done so in just 114 games, the fewest of any player on the list. The only rookies of the year since 2010 with the highest war level were Mike TroutAnd the Jose AbreuAnd the Aaron Judge And the Alonso’s house.
“He’s had a great season for sure. We definitely had similar numbers too”, MLS Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez He said about Harris. “He is an exciting player, a young talent, and he is not afraid. I love his game.”
In mid-August, Braves rewarded Harris with an eight-year contract extension worth $72 million through 2030, with two option seasons for the club that could make him worth $102 million over 10 years. Not bad for a kid who grew up a Braves fan in Stockbridge, Georgia, 35 miles south of Trustist Park.
“Yes, I never thought about 2030,” Harris said when he signed the deal. “That’s far. I’m glad I was able to stay here in Atlanta all this time.”
The Braves chose a hometown kid in the third round of the 2018 draft — when many teams considered Harris as a pitcher. See brave scout Dana Brown, now scouting director, as a defensive player with strength and speed. As Buster Olney wrote earlier this year, the Braves called for Harris to hit Truist Park before the draft, filling the outdoor benches with home runs in batting practice.
“I’m a hitter,” Harris told the Braves.
However, Harris hasn’t had much power in the minors, making seven runs in Serie A in Rome in 2021 and just five in those 43 games in Double-A. Joining the Braves, batting coach Kevin Setzer forced Harris to make an adjustment, lowering his hands. Harris made the change right away and his power took off.
Harris spent the first three months getting to the bottom of the strong Atlanta squad, but was third in the final week of the season when the Braves swept the Mets in a crucial streak to finish the division title.
“When he matures and becomes this player, we all know he is, he’s probably going to be second or third for a long time,” Snicker said towards the end of the season.
Strider also had a great season, going 11-5 with a 2.67 ERA and 202 strikes in 131.2 runs. Strider became the 10th rookie since 1969 with 200 attacks, the first since then Yo Darwish In 2012, 13.81 strikes in nine runs was the second-highest average ever for a shooter with no fewer than 100 runs, behind only 13.82 by Gerrit Cole in 2019.
“Everyone is trying to identify specific checkpoints they are trying to achieve,” Strider said when he hit 200 strikes. “I don’t think I was trying to hit 200 players in a season. That wasn’t my goal. It was just winning matches, keeping us in matches, things I could control and control.”
Voting could be closer if Strider doesn’t miss the last two weeks with slant stress. Strider also got his own financial reward when he signed a six-year, $75 million extension in early October that includes a $22 million club option for 2029.
Harris and Strider will also receive an additional bonus across the pre-arbitration bonus pool agreed to in the new business deal: $750,000 for Harris and $500,000 for Strider.
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