Which Braves position player finishes 2nd on the team in WAR in 2024?

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Back at it again with another group discussion here at the House that Hank Built! Today, we are doing something a little unique and predicting who we think will finish 2nd on the team in WAR among the position players.

The previous editions can be found here:

Which Atlanta Braves pitcher will have the highest WAR in 2024?

The participants: Chase Owens, Eric Cole, Fred Owens, Gaurav Vedak, Mitchell Barbee, Sage Broda, Shayne Nissen, Steven Teal, and myself, Trent Dickeson.

As mentioned, a little unique to predict who will be second. However, when you root for a team that has arguably the best player in baseball coming off an MVP season in Ronald
Acuña Jr, it makes sense. So who do we think will finish second? Keep reading to find out!

Who finishes second among the position players in WAR?

Chase: The obvious caveat with this question is we are speculating who finishes second on the team in WAR. If you were to survey the group's thoughts on who is first, it would be a unanimous selection of the reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. So, which Brave follows him up in the WAR leaderboard in 2024? I’ve seen a lot of speculation for a Michael Harris II jump into this role, but I still think one of Riley or Olson finishes with a better WAR. Last year it was Olson, this year I think it’ll be Riley. Austin graded positively in Fangraphs WAR for the first time on the defensive side of the ball. I think that defense, plus a faster start on offense allows Riley to finish second among position players on the team in WAR.

Eric: I think this is the year when Michael Harris II puts it all together. When I think about WAR, I think about all-around production. Despite a horrifying start to the 2023 season, he put up a .808 OPS on the year and missed a 20/20 season by a couple of homers. Money Mike seems like a guy that could put together a 25/25 season with Gold Glove defense in center and if he does that, he will be tough to beat for anyone not named Ronald Acuna Jr. The trick there, though, is that he has to draw more walks to get there. 

Mitchell: Michael Harris II. A 130 wRC+ hitter with exceptional defense over the course of a full season is at least a 6 fWAR player. Money Mike’s wRC+ during the second half of 2023 was 130, and I don’t think this is his ceiling. I agree with Eric, I think this is the year Michael Harris II becomes a star.

Gaurav: MH2. Platinum gold defense with near 30/30 potential on the offensive side? That skill set does not grow on trees and if Michael puts it together for an entire season on the offensive side of things, and avoids injury you have the makings of a 5-6 fWAR, 6-7 bWAR season. 

Steven: This is the easiest question for me yet. Michael Harris II is primed for a big season. After finally reaching full health after struggling through the first two months of the season, Harris broke out in a major way, slashing .326/.352/.535 with a .887 OPS, 136 wRC+ including 16 home runs, 29 doubles, and 49 RBI from June through September. I expect he will pick up right where he left off. There’s no denying the value Harris brings to the Braves as the team is much better when he is on the field. 

Fred: Everyone seems to think Harris II is the guy and I agree, but just to be contrarian, I’ll say Austin Riley’s going to go all Matt Olson on us. He’s certainly capable of it. 

Shayne: Austin Riley. He has all the pieces to be an MVP in this league. I think there is a strong argument that he is already the best third baseman in the MLB and though Matt Olson will be a popular pick for this amongst Braves fans because of the sheer power he produces, I think Riley can have a 50+ type home run season this year if everything goes right. Plus, his defensive WAR has steadily improved over the course of his career, and there is no reason to believe that won’t continue this year, which only helps his case.

Trent: If you want to know how blessed we are to be a Braves fan, just look at the amount of names we are discussing here. Not only do you have one of the best players in baseball in Ronnie, we get to cheer for guys like Austin Riley, Matt Olson, Michael Harris, Sean Murphy and Ozzie Albies. Those four names would be a top one or two position player on a lot of teams in the league.

One of those guys by rule is the Braves SIXTH best position player. SIXTH. Anyways, back to the question at hand I will go with Michael Harris. I think he puts together a full season instead of handicapping himself with two poor months of play. He totalled a 4.0 fWAR for the year but did not get going until June. In his final 100 games of 2023 (June 7th on), Harris compiled a 4.3 fWAR. That is a 6.97 fWAR pace over 162 games. It is quite possible the Braves have two OF on the same team putting up 6+ fWAR.

Our pick for the 2nd highest WAR is money

Michael Harris comes away with the most votes in our discussion of who could finish with the second most WAR on the Braves. It is easy to understand why. The talent is there for Harris to become a true superstar in the league.

What makes the Braves special though is not only do they have a talent like Ronald Acuña Jr., but they also have three or four guys that have a legitimate case for the question being asked in this article. A good time to be apart of Braves country.

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