Before the 2023 season, Austin Riley signed a massive contract with the Atlanta Braves to be their third baseman for the foreseeable future. The deal was for 10 years and worth $212 million. Entering the first season of his contract, it was a valid worry that Riley would not perform to his contract’s expectations. He was able to prove all the doubters wrong.
Riley was an All-Star for the second straight season in 2023. He provided the Braves with stability at the hot corner, playing in 159 of the season’s 162 games and performing very well. Riley’s defense is occasionally criticized but he has also shown that he has the potential and ability to showcase Gold Glove-caliber defense..
He hit .281 with 37 home runs and 97 runs batted in. He also tallied 328 total bases last season which is the most in his young career. To put into perspective how impressive this number is, he had 325 total bases in 2022 and that was the most in all of the National League.
Not only was Riley an All-Star but he also won a Silver Slugger Award, finishing 7th in National League MVP voting. This made the third straight season that Riley has finished in the top 10 of MVP voting.
Unfortunately for Riley, 2023 saw so many great players have historic seasons (Ronald Acuna Jr., Matt Olson, Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts). Had it not been for these names, Austin Riley would likely have been higher up in the MVP conversation.
Through his first five seasons in the MLB, Austin Riley has flown under the radar a little bit but putting his consistent numbers under a microscope will prove that he is one of the best (if not the best) third baseman in all of the league. He made his case for this title in 2023.
Moving forward, Alex Anthopoulos and the Atlanta Braves have to be ecstatic that Austin Riley will be putting on a Braves uniform for the next nine seasons.