Last night the Atlanta Braves announced that Austin Riley is their nominee for this years MLB Heart & Hustle award. This is Riley’s first time winning this award and his continued impact on the field and in the community makes him a strong candidate to garner the overall winner in MLB.
Last season NL MVP, Paul Goldschmidt, won the MLB award last season. Second baseman, Ozzie Albies, is the lone Braves player to win the MLB chosen award as the Heart & Hustle winner for all 30 teams, when he took home the honor in 2021.
Austin has always done great work in the community and it was highlighted in June when he hosted his “Driving for Veterans” celebrity golf tournament in support of military veterans.
Partner that with the constant production and hustle Riley provides on the diamond, and that makes him a very deserving winner.
The 2023 season has been another expected productive year at the plate for Riley. As of writing this he owns a .277/.336/.505 slash line, 29 home runs, 77 RBI, 121 wRC+, and 3.7 fWAR.
The fun part about this season is the defender Austin Riley has turned himself into. It looked like it would be another rough season defensively at the hot corner early on as Riley had a negative OAA in the seasons first couple months.
However, since then Riley has gotten his OAA all the way to a positive 1 mark. That is a far cry from the -8 OAA he posted in 2022. Currently, Austin Riley ranks in the 74th percentile in OAA via Baseball Savant, which is more than adequate given his production at the plate.
That type of turn around does not come without a LOT of hard work put in. Riley has showcased that and then some this season, and it’s one of the many reasons he is the 2023 Atlanta Braves Heart & Hustle award winner.