While a lot went wrong for the Braves in 2021, they are finally starting to turn things around, as they currently hold sole possession of first place for the first time all season. A big part of their turnaround of late has been the work of Austin Riley, who has finally become the All-Star caliber players Braves fans knew he could be.
Is there anything Austin Riley can’t do?
— SportsTalkATL Jake (@cantguardjake) August 15, 2021
AUSTIN RILEY THE MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER IN BASEBALL pic.twitter.com/qCkha9nZck
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) August 15, 2021
While Riley got hot in late May and early June like he always seems to, his consistent approach and patience at the plate have transformed him into a more complete hitter — and it’s paying dividends. Riley has been on fire over the last month, and it has helped establish him as one of the best hitting third basemen in the entire league:
Austin Riley (Last 30 Games): .328/.382/.664/1.046, 6 2B, 11 HR, 30 RBI
Austin Riley (Last 15 Games): .311/.358/.557/.915, 3 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBI
Austin Riley (Last 7 Games): .310/.355/.621/.926, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI
Austin Riley (2021): .293/.368/.526/.894, 21 2B, 25 HR, 72 RBI
Although the NL MVP is wide open (personally, I think Ronald Acuña Jr would be running away with it by a mile), Riley still has a ways to go. I don’t think he’s in the conversation…. yet. I do think he’s creeping up and is a legitimate dark horse candidate. Riley’s walks are increasing, and as a result, his strikeouts are falling. While his defensive metrics aren’t pretty, Braves fans know he’s rock-solid at the hot corner. Guys like Bryce Harper, Fernando Tatis Jr., Joey Votto, and maybe even his teammate Freddie Freeman are just a few names ahead of Riley, but if he keeps up this level of play, he will force his way into the conversation before August ends.
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