Riley flashes the leather during the All-Star Game
First, we have the aforementioned caught stealing with Murphy throwing out Arozarena at second base. Then, Austin Riley and Matt Olson decided it was their time to shine in the bottom of the fifth. Josh Jung from the Rangers hit a dribbler down the third baseline and Riley made an off-balance barehanded throw to first base.
The ball was picked perfectly as it got to first base by Matt Olson and showed just how much improvement Riley has made defensively. Last year, that throw would have been an error and thrown away.
Riley got another chance to shine in the bottom of the eighth inning as Brent Rooker of the Athletics blistered a ball to third base that Austin caught on a knee and immediately threw back to first base to double up Whit Merrifield to end the inning.
It was such a heads-up play and executed perfectly with a good throwback to Pete Alonso at first who was able to scoop the throw and secure the out. Ozzie Albies was mic'd up during this inning and the announcer asked "How about your Braves teammate, Ozzie?" to which Ozzie replied, "That's Austin Riley, all day long."
Austin Riley isn't known for being an incredible defender but he's made some strides to improve in that area. He is now positive in the outs above average statistic at a 1. For reference, he's never had a year with a positive OAA at third base so that really shows some improvement.
Riley's UZR is still below average at -4.1 but that is still better than it was in 2022 which was -7.9 for the season. His defensive runs saved sits at a 2 so far this year which shows he is almost above average in that category and was at a 6 DRS in 2022 and a whopping 13 in 2021. So, it's a little down from those seasons but if he keeps making plays like he made today, those defensive numbers will continue to climb.
It was an exciting game to watch and I'm glad the world was able to see just how talented these Braves players are and why Atlanta's entire infield made the game. Let's hope the second half continues to be just as exciting.