The deafening yawn that is being heard across the baseball world is coming from the Atlanta Braves and its fan base as they wait for the postseason.
Despite having injury problems with their pitching staff, Atlanta still owns the best record in the Majors (as of August 12) at 72-41 and the Philadelphia Phillies seem to be getting smaller and smaller in their rear view mirror at 9.5 games back.
While sitting in the penthouse of the MLB standings is great, a story to follow for Braves fans leading up to the playoffs is the consistent improvements of reigning NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II and the legendary effects since June.
Michael Harris II Is On Fire
With a .293 batting average along with 19 homers and 78 RBI, this MLBbro was one of the bigger stories of last season, overshadowed only by fellow MLBbro Aaron Judge’s historic home run chase.
After a back strain in spring training was aggravated by crashing into a wall earlier this season, Harris II struggled mightily at the plate.
Through the months of March and April, Harris hovered around the .200 mark.
And then in May, the MLBbro’s batting average bottomed out to .167 while he struck out 24 times. To put this in perspective, Harris struck out 107 times in 114 games last season!
While the social media managers gave their opinions on Harris being sent back to the minors to figure out his rhythm and swing, it Braves manager, Brian Snitker stood by him and the culture that allows the Braves’ young players to grow and thrive within their system.
Now let’s look at Michael Harris II improvements over the last couple of months, shall we?
Michael Harris II’s upward trend has lifted the Braves offense to historical levels. They lead the Majors in homers and slugging percentage and have the second best batting average and on base percentage.
With him in the ninth slot, the batting order is next to unstoppable. There are no easy outs in the lineup.
According to MLB.com’s Mike Petriello, now that our MLBbro has taken the 9th spot in the order, the Braves’ ninth spot has an OPS of .812 which is better than 20 of baseball’s 29 lead-off hitters. In other words, the 9th slot, manned mostly by Harris, is out-producing 2/3rds of the lead-off hitters in the league. Astonishing.
Harris II discussed the lineup and the effect it’s having on other pitching staffs to Bally Sports…
“I feel like it’s pretty frustrating for the other pitchers,” Harris said. “They get through who they think is going to do all the damage and they get down to the bottom of the lineup and we can still do a little damage. It’s a pretty special lineup.”
A pretty special lineup thanks to the team’s confidence in an MLBbro to find his way out of a slump.