The Braves have been the hottest team in baseball this month, going 21-5 in June. That record matches the team record for the most wins in a calendar month since the club moved to Atlanta in 1966. Atlanta will try to set a new mark as they go for a three-game sweep of the Phillies tonight.
Yesterday, Kyle Wright rebounded from two shaky outings as he allowed one run on three hits with four strikeouts over seven innings. Adam Duvall homered, Matt Olson hit a pair of doubles, and William Contreras and Michael Harris II notched RBIs in the 4-1 win over the Phillies.
The Braves lineup is so dangerous because of the bottom of the order, which has been among the league’s best. And one of the biggest reasons for that is the emergence and continued success of the youngest player in the game — Michael Harris II.
Not only is Harris playing elite defense in center field, reminiscent of Andruw Jones, but he’s also proven his bat is ready for the majors. He’s slashing .327/.351/.509 with an OPS of .860, three homers, seven doubles, two triples, 15 RBIs, and four stolen bags in 29 games. Harris is the real deal, and he’s got a shot to win the NL Rookie of the Year.
- Oneil Cruz +375
- Michael Harris +450
- MacKenzie Gore +450
- Nolan Gorman +475
- Spencer Strider +550
As you can see, Spencer Strider is also in the thick of things for the best rookie in the National League. He’s been rock-solid in the rotation, but he was absolutely dominant out of the bullpen at the beginning of the year. Over 24.1 innings in a relief role, Strider boasted a 2.22 ERA, and his 1.45 FIP suggests he was a bit unlucky. Over that same stretch, he only allowed batters to hit for a .167 average, striking out 37 of them.
Once Strider joined the rotation, it’s been more of the same. Before a hiccup of an outing against the Giants where he gave up six runs over 3.2 innings, the righty racked up 11 Ks over 5.2 innings of one-hit, two-run ball against the Nationals, throwing a career-high 106 pitches to help the Braves win their 14th straight game.
In six starts, Strider has a 3.68 ERA over 29.1 innings with 42 strikeouts while allowing opposing batters to hit for a measly .202 average. On the year, Atlanta’s Huckleberry has a 3.02 ERA with a 13.2 K/9 in 53.2 innings, holding batters to a .187 average.
The Braves have two of the best rookies in the majors, and it’s a testament to Alex Anthopoulos’ front office and the coaching staff in their ability to consistently find and develop talent. There’s a decent chance one of them will take the award this season.
Oneil Cruz has only played nine games in 2022, and MacKenzie Gore has cooled off considerably since lighting the league on fire to begin the season. If Strider and Harris remain consistent, there’s no doubt one of them will be the first Braves player to win Rookie of the Year since Ronald Acuna Jr. (2018) and Craig Kimbrel (2011).
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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