Atlanta Braves players well represented on the 2024 under-25 team

The Athletic selected one Atlanta Brave to its list of everyday players for their 2024 MLB All-Under-25 Team and another as an alternate. Two Atlanta Braves pitchers received honorable mentions. If you’re about to write an angry comment, relax; only five Braves were eligible.

 Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris III looks ready to have another outstanding season.
Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Harris III looks ready to have another outstanding season. / Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves pitchers Dylan Dodd, Bryce Elder, and AJ Smith-Shawver, and outfielders Jarred Kelenic and Michael Harris II play at 24 or younger this year and are projected to receive significant playing time.

Elder and Smith-Shawver garnered honorable mentions for the All-Under-25 Team, and it’s hard to disagree with that. If everything goes as the Braves hope, Elder will be the fifth starter, while AJSS should be on the Gwinnett shuttle crew, to provide the innings to keep Fried, Sale, Morton, and Strider healthy for October.

The Outfield

Kelenic had his best season as a big leaguer in 2023 for the Mariners, playing in only 105 games and batting .253/.327/.419/.746 with 11 homers. Derek Carty’s The BAT X projects the Braves new left fielder to play in 125 games, bat .244/.317.422/.739, hit 17 homers, and end the year with 97 wRC+. The Athletic’s staff said that’s good enough for an honorable mention.

The selection is position-specific, so Harris only qualified as a centerfielder, making it a choice between him and Julio Rodriguez. The Athletic’s Stephen Nesbitt explains that the competition was very close..

Rodríguez (started slow) before recovering to reach his second All-Star Game, a 30-30 season and a fourth-place finish in AL MVP voting…He’s doggone good.

So is Harris. He started even slower but ended the season batting .293 with 18 homers and 20 steals (and) slashed his strikeout rate from 24.3 percent to 18.7…The Bat X projects 30-30 season and 5.3 WAR for Rodríguez and 20-20 and 3.7 WAR for Harris.

I understand that it’s only a projection, but I believe the projection significantly underestimates Harris’ 2024 production.

Michael Harris vs J-Rod

Both players started slowly, and J-Rod ended the season with more homers, but over each player’s last 100 games, the race was tighter. Take a look at those numbers below.

  • Rodriguez batted 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in all but 13 of his PA
  • The only lineup spots Harris didn’t bat in more than 10 times were 3rd and 4th
  • Rodriguez batted .291/.348/.509/.857, hit 29 doubles. a triple and 22 homers in 466 PA and 426 AB
  • Harris batted .335/.360/.552/.912, hit 29 doubles, 3 triples, and 16 homers in 401 PA and 382 AB
  • Rodriguez homered every 21 PA
  • Harris homered every 25 PA

Defensively, outs above average favors Rodrigues 12 to 6, but DRS leans towards Harris +2 to –5.

So, J-Rod hit more homers but got on base less due to a lower average and higher K-rate, while Harris improved as the season went on, even as manager Brian Snitker bounced him around the lineup, and defense is a split decision.

That’s A Wrap

If the Atlanta Braves keep Harris in the ninth spot, I expect a 25/25 season; it’s hard to go 30/30 when you come to the plate 100 times less than a top of the order bat.

I doubt Harris bats ninth all year because it’s really hard to justify putting a bat that good in a slot where he’ll get fewer chances to create runs. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him bat second or fifth.

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