Still just 22 years of age, Michael Harris II has put together star level production for his first two years of professional baseball. The 2022 Atlanta Braves became a juggernaut once they called NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II up in late May.
His 2023 season got off to a terrible start, but Harris' talent isn't something that can be held down too long. Once healthy, MH2 came on strong, and didn't allow opposing pitchers to catch a break once they got to the bottom of the Braves lineup. We take a look back at all that went right, and the little that went wrong in 2023 for one Michael Harris II.
A surprisingly slow start
As we've said, MH2 was coming off a ROY award in 2022, so his expectations in 2023 were high amongst fans to say the least. Shockingly, the beginning of 2023 we saw some of the worst baseball we've seen from Harris. Not only did he battle a slight back injury, which he got while stealing a base, his plate appearances left fans rather discouraged.
When you combine his March and April stats, Harris had an OPS under .500 and putrid 37 wRC+ (as a reminder 100 is league average). His month of May wasn't much better, as he slashed .167/.260/.274, had a 47 wRC+, and was striking out in a quarter of his plate appearances. However, much like 2022, once the calendar flipped to June both he and the Braves took off.
Money Mike returns
June was money Mike's best month, as he put up some insane statistics. In his 25 games played in June, Harris II had an OPS over 1.000, wOBA of .423, and an astronomical 167 wRC+. This helped spur the Braves to a 21-4 record in June, as they really began to run away with the NL East.
His second half of the year wasn't much different as MH2 continued to be of the best hitter's in baseball over the final months. By seasons end Harris was one of the most valuable players on the Braves roster. He was one of the clutchest regular season hitters in the lineup as well, with an OPS over 1.000 and 162 wRC+ in high leverage situations.
Harris continued to do the things that encouraged the front office to extend him at such a young age. This includes his stellar defense, blazing speed, and ability to hit the ball hard more often than not. His baseball savant page will showcase a lot of red circles for those of you wondering.
Harris II is a true five-tool player and his percentile rankings showcased that. He ranked in the 98th percentile in xBA, 85th percentile in xSLG, 86th percentile in hard-hit%, 92nd percentile in range (OAA), 93rd percentile in arm value, and 86th percentile in sprint speed. Tools like that is why he ended up with the season numbers he did.
His slash line for the 2023 season as a whole was .293/.331/.477, he had 18 homers, 20 stolen bases, .345 wOBA, 115 wRC+, and was worth 4.0 fWAR via Fangraphs.
What does 2024 hold for Michael Harris II?
As we've mentioned there isn't a ton of room for improvement for MH2. With that said, he possesses so much talent at such a young age that it can be done. Coming into 2023, fans were worried about his production against left-handed pitchers. He put that to bed producing a 114 wRC+ vs. LHP, compared to his 115 wRC+ vs. RHP.
The next step people will point to is his production in postseason baseball. Yes, the first two NLDS have not been kind to money Mike, but you could really say that about the Braves as a whole. A more focused area for MH2 would be his ability to get on base via the walk. Last season Harris II was in the 6th percentile for chase%, and the 4th percentile in BB%. His numbers will improve as he learns to stop chasing out the strike zone.
2023 was a strong sophomore campaign for Harris II, but the great thing is there is still room to grow. Grab your popcorn Braves country, money Mike is one of MLB's brightest stars and he still has a lot to prove.