The Braves have been rolling. Nearly every facet of the team is performing. The rotation boasts some of the best stats in baseball, despite being down two of its best pitchers. The bullpen hadn’t given up a run in 15+ inning prior to Wednesday’s contest against the Mets, and the lineup is among the most feared in the league.
Eddie Rosario and Marcell Ozuna, the two biggest offensive worries coming into the season, have suddenly caught fire. The top of the lineup is doing its thing, but at the bottom is where the concern begins, mainly with Michael Harris II.
To say the reigning Rookie of the Year has been struggling would be an understatement. Harris entered Wednesday’s tilt against the Mets hitting a paltry .163 with a .490 OPS, but a little pep talk from Marcell Ozuna changed all of that.
“Hey, you’re the best center fielder in the league – not even in the league, in (all of) MLB,” Ozuna said he told Harris before his final at-bat in Tuesday’s game. “So you gotta trust yourself. Since now, your season starts. Don’t worry about anything in the past, earlier this season. Don’t worry about anything in the past. Forget about everything and start the season now.”
Harris has been hitting the piss out of the ball but had nothing to show for it. All of that changed Wednesday. In the eighth inning, Harris destroyed a go-ahead, two-run home run to straightaway to go along with two other hits, finishing 3-for-4 and a triple away from the cycle.
“I mean, when I first hit it, I was like, ‘Ah, that felt good,’” Michael Harris said. “You don’t really feel it off the bat when you hit the sweet spot.”
The Stockbridge native did it all for Atlanta, recording a game-tying double, a third-inning bunt, and of course a SportsCenter Top 10 catch. And he credits his resurgence to Marcell Ozuna.
“He was just reminding me that I have the potential to be one of the better players in the league and try to believe in myself, and go out there and not worry about any mechanical things,” Michael Harris said. “Just go out and play.”
It’s scary hours for the rest of the league if Money Mike can continue heating up because the last piece of this offense is the bottom of the order contributing.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire