Coming into the season, the Braves were already loaded with talent. Ronald Acuña was regarded as the best rising star in the game, Austin Riley and Matt Olson were MVP candidates last season, and plenty of other players were up for different awards. There’s a reason they won the World Series, but could one of the new kids on the block already hold the title of the best player on the team?
I don’t think it’s so far-fetched. Ever since being called up straight from AA, Michael Harris has turned heads in every aspect of the game. His defense is already Gold Glove caliber in centerfield; he’s hit for power and average, all while stealing 16 bases on 17 attempts. Eventually, it would have been normal for him to hit some semblance of a “rookie wall,” but Harris has only improved with more experience at the major-league level.
August saw Michael Harris’ batting average jump nearly 20 points, as he was named Rookie of the Month after hitting .337 with four homers and 12 doubles — good for a .990 OPS. And Harris is even hotter to begin September, hitting a ridiculous .419 with five homers and three doubles, resulting in a 1.256 OPS over the first 11 games of the month.
On the season, Harris’ average is now up .313 and his OPS is over .900. He’s on track to hit 20 homers, and he might even steal 20 bases. Keep in mind, the 21-year-old has yet to even play in 100 major-league games yet. Harris has already accrued 4.5 fWAR, which, over 162 games, is a 7.7 WAR pace. That would put him in the MVP race, and he’s only a rookie!
Harris is putting up pre-ACL Ronald Acuña-type numbers. Whether it’s sustainable or not is yet to be seen, but I see no reason why it isn’t. If the Braves players were grouped into tiers, Michael Harris certainly deserves to be in the top one, and soon we could be talking about him being in a tier of his own.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire