Austin Riley making case for MVP, caps off historic month of July with walk-off

Braves division race Austin Riley

The Braves finally won a series finale after losing seemingly every Sunday matchup since June. Behind Max Fried‘s gem and Austin Riley‘s walk-off, the club narrowly escaped the lowly Diamondbacks. The team’s ace led the way on the mound tossing seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and two walks with five strikeouts. However, last night’s win was all about the man at the hot corner — Austin Riley, who is making a strong case for the MVP after a historic month of July.

Over that stretch, Riley hit .423 with 11 home runs, 14 doubles, 25 RBIs, and posted a 1.338 OPS. The walk-off double on Sunday, which was his 26th extra-base hit of the month, broke Hank Aaron‘s record of 25 extra-base hits in a single month. Riley was undoubtedly the best player of the month, leading all qualified hitters in July in wOBA, wRC+, AVG, SLG, and WAR. He was just the seventh player since 1901 to hit .420+ and have 26+ XBH in a single month, joining Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, and others.

Riley slashed .423/.460/1.344 as the team went 18-8 in July as he continues his ascent to an MVP. On the season, he’s hitting .301 with 29 homers and a .964 OPS, second in the NL, behind only Paul Goldschmidt‘s 1.012 mark. The Cardinal’s first baseman is Riley’s stiffest competition in the NL MVP race, and he’s having an absolutely unbelievable season in his own right, but let’s compare some of their stats head-to-head.

  • Goldschmidt: .329/.409/.603 with 1.011 OPS, 24 HRs, 78 RBIs, 28 doubles, 187 OPS+, -0.5 dWAR, 5.0 oWAR
  • Riley: .301/.360/.604 with .964 OPS, 29 HRs, 68 RBIs, 31 doubles, 161 OPS+, 0.1 dWAR, 4.8 oWAR

The two players’ stat lines are comparable, and Riley is even better in a few metrics, including total bWAR. At this point, most would give the nod to Goldschmidt, but there is a lot of baseball left to be played, and nobody has been hotter than Austin Riley in the month of July. Riley would be the first player to win the MVP award at the hot corner since Chipper Jones in 1999.

Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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