The Atlanta Braves are having a record-breaking offensive season. Individual records are on pace to fall, as well as team offensive records. It's easy to see how a solid performance like the one Michael Harris II is putting together can get lost in the moonshots from Matt Olson or Ronald Acuna Jr.'s thefts. Allow me to take a few moments to give the young centerfielder his flowers.
Michael Harris II had a rough start to the 2023 season. He was coming off of a Rookie of the Year Award in 2022, beating out teammate Spencer Strider. Harris played in 114 games last season and put up a 131 OPS+. He finished with 27 doubles, three triples, 19 homers, 64 RBI, and 20 steals while hitting .297.
Then, of course, don't forget the defensive contributions. Harris posted eight defensive runs saved in center field. If you are familiar with how this stat works, then you know that it compares him to other centerfielders. That means he was worth 8 DRS more than the average centerfielder. In case you didn't know, the average major-league centerfielder is incredibly good. It does them a disservice to call them "average." Read more about understanding basic defensive analytics here.
With the bat, "Money" Mike began the season in a recession. By the third game of the season, Harris' batting average was at .300 with three hits in his first 10 at-bats. From there, it dropped drastically and it was tough to watch.
By May 22nd, his average reached a season-low .163. His OBP was .242 and his SLG was .244. If you added his SLG and his OBP together (which is a completely arbitrary thing to do, but fun nonetheless) that number is still lower than his .514 slugging percentage in 2022.
Between May 22nd and June 6th, Harris was incredibly consistent. By June 6th, his average was still .163 and his SLG was still .244. Even though those are terrible numbers and Facebook fans were ready to send him to Single-A, it is pretty impressive how consistently bad he was.
Michael Harris II Reads Facebook Comments and Turns Season Around
I am adding a bit of unfounded and unsubstantiated spice to the headline above. But something happened on June 7th that turned Harris' season around. I remember in the games leading up to that day you could see he was putting it together.
For a while, it seemed like he was hitting the ball on the screws (can someone explain this analogy to me? It seems more like a golf thing that hasn't been applicable for decades... why do we just keep saying things that really don't make any sense? It's because we are sheep...I don't mean to point a finger at you... I am the one who said it in the first place. I'm a sheep.) and getting extremely unlucky.
In the 46 games between June 7th and Aug 2nd, Harris II has slashed .374/.398/.638! He has blasted nine of his 11 home runs, 12 doubles, and two triples in that span. That's a 162-game pace of 32 homers. I'd like to tell you what his 162-game pace would be for his average but I don't think there is any mathematical way to figure that out.
Despite the slow start, Harris II has still posted a 2.1 bWAR with 11 total homers. Keep in mind, he has only had 286 at-bats this season, 11 homers is not too shabby. His batting average sits at a comfortable .283 and continues to ascend. His 13 steals are still good for a 162-game average of 25.
Atlanta Braves Fans Should be EXCITED over Michael Harris II's Future
Seeing Michael Harris II bounce back from such a rough start is a great sign for his future. When you look at how young he is and what his career 162-game average is, it makes me really excited to have him in my dynasty fantasy league... Oh yeah, and on the Braves.
Based on his career numbers, Harris' 162-game average (which can be found by using a calculator, Excel sheet, or by going to his Baseball-Reference page) is as follows:
.291 BA, .335 OBP, .496 SLG, 97 R, 43 2B, 5 3B, 30 HR, 96 RBI, 33 SB, 39 BB, .831 OPS
The kid is just 22 years old and if he continues to get better then the rest of the league should be scared.