Braves: Austin Riley, Spencer Strider named Players of the Month

Braves division race Austin Riley

The Braves haven’t made any blockbuster trades this deadline; however, they have plenty of superstars on the roster. There’s no need to trade for a Juan Soto when you can just extend Austin Riley, who is in the thick of the MVP race, at a much more reasonable figure. Atlanta’s third baseman is currently second in MVP odds and capped off a historic month of July with a walk-off double against the Diamondbacks on Sunday — earning him NL Player of the Month honors.

Over that stretch, Riley hit .423 with 11 home runs, 15 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 DiMaggioBabe 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.

To put Riley’s stretch in perspective, he recorded those 15 doubles and 11 homers in 26 games, while Hammerin’ Hank recorded 12 doubles, 12 homers and a triple in 32 games. He’s the first Braves player of the month since Ronald Acuna earned the honor in April 2021. The club went 18-8 in July, but Riley’s been the hottest hitter in baseball for more than just a month. He’s slashed .343/.390/.701 with 20 doubles, 17 homers and 43 RBIs over the past two months.

But Riley isn’t the only member of the team that was recognized by the league. Spencer Strider was named the NL Rookie of the Month. During July, Atlanta’s Huckleberry posted a 2.70 ERA with 41 strikeouts over 26.2 innings pitched. And his 2.14 FIP even suggests he’s been a bit unlucky. Strider also only allowed a minuscule .158 average against opposing batters. The rookie has established himself as the team’s second ace behind Max Fried and might even challenge him for the best starter in the rotation sooner rather than later.

Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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