The Braves might make a few minor tweaks to the roster, but for the most part, it’s set for the 2023 season. This is the perfect time to look at FanGraphs‘ projections for the 2023 season, continuing my series and moving to center field, which featured breakout star Michael Harris II in 2022. Below are the previous parts of the series:
It’s not crazy to say Michael Harris II was the Braves best player across the 2022 campaign. The Stockbridge native made his major league debut when the team boasted a 22-24 record, and all Atlanta did was win 79 of the next 118 games. The outfield was a mess, and Harris immediately solidified it with his Gold Glove-caliber defense. It’s actually a travesty he wasn’t a finalist for the award; I expect him to win multiple Gold Gloves before his time in the league is over.
While everyone expected regression at some point, Harris never hit the infamous rookie wall. He slashed .297/.339/.514 with 19 long balls, good for an .853 OPS and 135 OPS+ across 114 games. That is no fluke considering the sample size. He drove in 64 runs while swiping 20 bags, nearly reaching the impressive 20/20 mark for home runs and steals. There was nothing the Braves phenom couldn’t do.
People often throw around the term five-tool player, but in this case, it’s real. Harris routinely provided exceptional power without giving up much average, impressive range in the field with an arm that nobody could run on, and unbelievable speed on the base path. Harris was excellent in every facet of the game en route to Rookie of the Year honors and a massive contract extension.
FanGraphs doesn’t see it as a fluke, either. The site projects him to accrue the fourth-most WAR among center fielders (4.3) with a .276/.327/.466 slash line. Harris is set to roam center field of Truist Park for the better part of the next decade for the Braves, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what the hometown kid can become in Atlanta.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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