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Michael Harris II Has Constructed On His Rookie Of The Yr Marketing campaign


The breakout efficiency of middle fielder Michael Harris II was probably the most thrilling storylines for the Braves final season. The 21-year-old rookie was referred to as as much as the massive leagues on the finish of Could in 2022 and by no means seemed again, slashing a incredible .297/.339/.514 in 441 journeys to the plate whereas swiping 20 bases and enjoying glorious protection in middle discipline. That efficiency earned him NL Rookie of the Yr honors along with a number of downballot MVP votes, regardless of the teenager solely showing in 114 video games that season.

The Braves noticed sufficient in Harris’s efficiency to ink the teenager to an eight-year, $72MM extension earlier than his rookie season had even come to a detailed, and it’s simple to see why. In any case, Harris’ 134 wRC+ ranked within the top-25 amongst all main league hitters with at the least 400 plate appearances final 12 months, and his protection in middle discipline was nothing wanting superlative. Solely Victor Robles, Myles Straw, and Michael A. Taylor outperformed Harris’s +8 Defensive Runs Saved final 12 months amongst middle fielders, whereas his +7 Outs Above Common left Harris tied with Cody Bellinger and Alek Thomas for sixth-most amongst middle fielders with at the least 250 makes an attempt final 12 months.

That being stated, there have been potential pink flags in Harris’s profile final season that made it honest to marvel if he might replicate his glorious offensive season going ahead. Of these, the most important one was maybe his strikeout price. Of the 36 gamers who posted a wRC+ larger than 130 final season (min. 400 PA), simply three of them struck out extra typically than Harris’s 24.3% price: Aaron Choose, Mike Trout, and Julio Rodriguez. Harris, who hit 19 residence runs in 2022 and posted an ISO of simply .217, didn’t have the titanic energy of that aforementioned trio with which to make up for his swing and miss tendencies. As well as, Harris’s 4.8% stroll price was by far the bottom of the bunch. The truth is, Harris truly ranked in simply the eleventh percentile in all of baseball final 12 months when it comes to stroll price, per Statcast.

It’s simple to see why Harris was placing out a lot. Harris swung at a whopping 41.7% of pitches he noticed outdoors of the strike zone whereas making contact on simply 59.7% of these swings. Solely Javier Baez, Nick Castellanos, and Michael Chavis swung and missed at extra pitches outdoors of the zone final 12 months. Harris’s free-swinging strategy isn’t helped by pitches within the zone a lot, both. The teenager posted a roughly common 67.9% swing price on pitches contained in the zone, and his 86.2% contact price on pitches within the zone was truly barely under league common final 12 months. Between Harris’s reckless swing selections and middling energy numbers, it was simple to see how he might regress considerably headed into 2023. Superior metrics agreed with that evaluation, as Harris’s .368 wOBA noticeably outstripped his .335 xwOBA in 2022.

Early within the 2023 marketing campaign, it appeared that Harris was certainly destined for a critical sophomore droop. After lacking most of April on account of a again damage, Harris seemed brutal on the plate via the start of June. In his first 138 plate appearances of the season, Harris posted a brutal .163/.246/.244 slash line with a 25.4% strikeout price and simply two residence runs. That being stated, he was nonetheless enjoying his typical glorious protection and had an uncharacteristically low .207 BABIP. That was sufficient for the Braves to stay with their struggling teenager regardless of his abysmal begin with the bat.

The membership’s persistence paid off, as Harris hit an exceptional .335/.360/.552 the remainder of the best way. That spectacular slash line is sweet for a 142 wRC+, the sixteenth-best determine within the majors over that span and on par with the likes of Bellinger and Bryce Harper. Maybe most fun is Harris’s enchancment when it comes to strikeout price, as he punched out in simply 16.5% of his plate appearances throughout that 100-game stretch. Whereas Harris continued to swing too often- his 42.3% swing price on pitches outdoors of the strike zone was ninth-highest within the majors, even throughout that torrid stretch- he made much more contact on these swings. Harris made contact on a whopping 69.8% of swings on pitches outdoors the strike zone whereas posting a 89.1% contact price on pitches within the zone.

Taken collectively, Harris’s enhancements involved price allowed him to publish a strikeout price of simply 18.7% on the 12 months good for the 71st percentile amongst certified hitters. Although his chilly stretch to open the 12 months left his general season numbers to fall wanting his rookie season, as he posted a wRC+ of simply 115 on the 12 months, Harris’s peripherals in 2023 are a much better match for his manufacturing, indicating he ought to be capable of maintain this degree of offensive manufacturing going ahead. The truth is, Harris’s .345 wOBA in 2023 is definitely ten factors decrease than his .355 xwOBA, indicating there might even be a small quantity of constructive regression in Harris’s future, if he’s in a position to construct on his improved contact charges in 2024.

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