Michael Harris II’s Impact Through First 2 Weeks

It’s been two weeks since the Atlanta Braves called up top prospect Michael Harris and there is no question he’s had a huge impact on the team’s recent success. 

The Atlanta Braves were 22-24 when they called up Michael Harris II on May 28. Since then, they are 11-3 and have improved their record to 32-27 — good enough to be tied for a playoff spot.

There are several factors for why the Braves have played much better over the last two weeks, but you can’t deny the fact that Michael Harris has been a big part of this hot streak.

Michael Harris has played in all14 games since getting the call and is slashing .298/.327/.447 with 5 doubles, a triple, 8 runs scored, 5 RBI, and a stolen base.

The 4.1% walk rate is something you’d like to see improve, but batting in front of Ronald Acuna Jr., you’re going to see a lot of strikes.

And his 22.4% strikeout rate is a tad higher than what we saw in the minors, but not terrible for today’s game.

His 38.9% HardHit% and 86.4 MPH average exit velocity won’t jump off the page, but it seems like he’s making improvements every game, and his approach to take the ball the other way to left-center has been great.

The wheels — 29.3 ft/s spring speed — have also paid off at times in beating out potential double-plays to extend the inning for Acuna and going first-to-third on a hit.

But where he’s had the biggest impact is in the field where he’s also using that elite speed to track down balls in the gap.

He’s already third on the team in Statcast’s Outs Above Average defensive metric at 3, and FanGraphs’ Defensive WAR metric has him at 2.2.

You don’t need advanced metrics to tell you just how great he’s been in center field. We’ve seen him make diving catches, catch balls on the run in the gap, and he’s also shown off his arm.

Even more than what he’s done individually, it’s also moved Adam Duvall into left field where he’s much more comfortable — not that he wasn’t solid in center — and it’s possible that’s helped take some pressure off him.

It also allows Brian Snitker to keep Acuna in right field where he’s a much better defender, and you don’t have to worry about the extra physical stress of player center.

While the move was a bit shocking to call up Michael Harris at 21 years old with just 43 games above A-Ball, it’s certainly paying dividends as the Braves have been a much more complete team with him.

 

 

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