The emergence of Kyle Wright is one of the primary reasons I believe this year’s team is significantly better than last year’s squad that won the World Series. After last night’s gem against the Phillies, the former 5th overall pick out of Vandy now has a 3.03 ERA on the season, as he’s completely broken out in his fifth year with the big-league club and established himself at the top of the rotation alongside Max Fried.
But Wright’s not the only reason this team is better than last year’s. The return of Ronald Acuña and a much improved bullpen also have played a significant factor; however, perhaps the most impactful addition–the move that’s completely turned this team around–has been the arrival of Michael Harris II. Following last night’s win, Wright talked about the man who should now be considered the frontrunner for the NL Rookie of the Year award.
Asked his takeaway from the 21 June wins, Kyle Wright brought up Michael Harris: “I feel like as soon as he came up here, he kind of changed the whole complexion of our team, if you will. …I don’t want to say it’s completely him, but the correlation is there.”
— Justin Toscano (@JustinCToscano) June 30, 2022
What Harris has meant to this Braves team really can’t be put into words. He’s already surpassed all expectations for this season; most didn’t even believe he would be called up until 2023 (I was one of those idiots). And while regression is probably in line, I’ve seen enough to say with confidence that there’s no turning back.
Even when Harris hits an inevitable slump, what he adds defensively and with his speed on the bases brings significant value to the team. Not only should he be at the forefront of the NL Rookie of the Year conversation, but he’s also on the fast track to capture his first Gold Glove.
The term five-tool player is thrown around far too often. There are only a few guys that actually fit the description, but Michael Harris is one of them. His contact bat is so advanced, even when he does slump, I don’t expect it to be anything like the ones we’ve seen from Austin Riley or Dansby Swanson. Harris has power to all fields; he’s the best defensive player in the organization, and he’s a threat on the basepaths.
The Braves found themselves a true weapon, and Kyle Wright hit the nail on the head. There is a reason Atlanta’s turnaround began when they decided to call up Michael Harris.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire