Atlanta Braves 2022 Season Review: Michael Harris II, NL Rookie of the Year
Perhaps the best storyline for the Atlanta Braves in 2022, aside from their incredible comeback to win the NL East, was the incredible contributions from the rookies on the team. At one point, there were questions as to whether the Braves could have three rookies finish in the top three in rookie of the year voting. Though Atlanta enjoyed incredible seasons from rookies Spencer Strider and Vaughn Grissom , Michael Harris II was crowned king.
How did Michael Harris do in 2022?
Coming off a World Series win in 2021, the Braves and many of its players had heavy expectations coming into to the 2022 season. These expectations did not extend to Michael Harris, who started the year in double-A. Harris was one of the Braves’ top prospects and was quickly on the rise, it was only a matter of time before he made it to Atlanta. Harris was called up in May, skipping triple-A, and cemented himself as not only a pivotal piece in the Braves lineup, but a future superstar.
In his rookie season, Michael Harris II compiled a .297/.339/.514/.853 slash line and a 136 WRC+, mind boggling numbers coming from the youngest player in the league for the majority of the season. Harris also hit 19 homers and stole 20 bases, proving he can be a 30-30 threat once he plays a full season. Harris also had the 35th highest fWAR in the MLB despite missing the first 46 games of the season. Had he started the year with the team, it’s hard to imagine he doesn’t finish around top 10 in fWAR across the whole MLB.
The advanced statistics also back up Michael Harris. Harris’ expected slugging ranked in the 83 percentile and his hard hit percentage ranked in the 76th percentile as well. Those numbers coupled with his sprint speed, which ranked in the 95th percentile, combine to make an offensive weapon.
While Money Mike’s offensive contributions were key to much of the Braves’ success in 2022, his defensive contributions might have been even more valuable. Harris’ quickly became one of the most prolific centerfielders in the league, thanks to his sprint speeds, as well as his outfield jumps, which ranked in the 86th percentile in 2022.
Harris totaled eight defensive runs saved and seven outs above average, which ranked in the 92nd percentile. His incredible arm strength was also on showcase this year, consistently gunning people out at home or third base.
Michael didn’t play particularly well in the postseason, but expecting a 21 year old rookie to play at a superstar level in his first four postseason games is very unrealistic. With the core the Braves have built, Harris will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents in the postseason.
What should we expect from Michael Harris II?
All you can really ask from Michael Harris in 2023 are similar results as 2022. He had an exceptional year, one that was in contention for a Silver Slugger, should have been in contention for a Gold Glove, and most likely would have earned him an All Star selection had he played the whole season. If Harris can fix a few problems, like his strikeout rate which was high, and his launch angle which was a bit low, him being in the race for an MVP in the near-future isn’t crazy whatsoever. For now, Braves fans should rejoice in the fact that a five-tool star will be patrolling center field for years to come.