Michael Harris II began the year slower than a tortoise attempting to climb Mt. Everest. A couple of injuries played a significant factor, but in the middle of June, he was still hitting below the Mendoza Line. There was understandable concern. Some even called for him to spend some time in AAA to figure things out, which was ridiculous, but as the injuries began to subside, the young man that won the 2022 NL Rookie of the Year award started to show his true colors.
On June 12th, a three-hit game finally put Harris’ batting average above .200. Since then, he’s been arguably the best player on the team, and that includes Ronald Acuña Jr. Harris has hit .375 with eight homers over his last 41 games, good for an OPS over 1.000.
Remember, this is the guy who bats ninth in the Braves order and plays Gold Glove caliber defense in centerfield. Since June 7th, he’s been the most valuable centerfielder in all of baseball.
Since June 7th, Michael Harris II leads all qualified center fielders in fWAR. That 2.5 fWAR since 6/7 also puts him at #8 overall amongst position players.
Michael has been playing at an elite level for two months now. pic.twitter.com/cgKedFXrMA
— Gaurav (@gvedak) August 3, 2023
There are also some even more encouraging signs for his future.
Harris’ strikeout rate is down to just 18.7% after being at 24.3% last season. His walk rate has also slightly increased from 4.8% to 5.8%. Both of those things should only improve with time, and he’s already one of the best all-around outfielders in the game.
Sophomore slumps aren’t uncommon in the game of baseball. We saw it from Spencer Strider earlier in the season. What Michael Harris went through may have been more severe than most, but he’s come out the other side, and he’ll be a better player moving forward because of it.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire