As the trade deadline approaches, the Braves are still chasing the division-leading Mets, who Braves Country can expect to make moves at the deadline. Atlanta has their own needs that Alex Anthopoulos will have to address, but the club would be in a much worse situation without a pair of rookies, both of whom are leading the NL Rookie of the Year race.
It seems Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II will battle it out for the award in the National League. MLB.com voters ranked their top five candidates for baseball’s best first-year players. Rookies received vote points on a 5-4-3-2-1 scale — five points for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on, with 50 voters participating.
1. Spencer Strider, Braves (33 first-place votes)
Like J-Rod in the AL, Strider remains locked in as the Rookie of the Year front runner in the NL. The 23-year-old right-hander has a 2.70 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings in July, giving him a 2.91 ERA on the season with 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
2. Michael Harris II, Braves (11 first-place votes)
The Braves actually have the top two NL Rookie of the Year candidates in the eyes of our voters, one in the rotation and one in the lineup. The center fielder Harris is batting .292 with nine home runs and 11 stolen bases in 53 games this season, with four of those homers and seven of those steals coming in July. He moves up from No. 3 in the last poll.
It’s not just the voters who believe Atlanta boasts the best two rookies in the NL, either. Vegas doesn’t think it’s particularly close. Oddsmakers have it as a two-player race between Strider and Harris, with Seiya Suzuki trailing far behind.
Strider has solidified himself as the rotation’s ace behind Max Fried, showing he can handle the duties of a full-time starter despite never pitching this many innings in his entire career. The Braves’ Huckleberry ranks first among all rookie pitchers in bWAR and has pitched 20 fewer innings than the second-place Joe Ryan.
Harris is having an equally impressive debut season for his hometown team. He ranks first among all NL rookie position players in bWAR and fourth in the MLB but has played as many as 40 fewer games than those ahead of him.
The pair have been instrumental in the Braves’ chase for their fifth-straight NL East title.
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