Mad Money Mike

Mad Money Mike

Michael Harris II bounced back nicely from a recent ten game slump, going 3-3, including an RBI single to center field that drove in Austin Riley, to extend the Braves lead in the 4th inning. He also ran down and snagged a screaming drive to deep center field in the bottom of the seventh inning, preventing a sure extra base hit off the bat of J.D. Martinez to help temporarily hold on to a no-hit bid. The Braves would go on to lose the no-hitter in the ninth inning, but ultimately won the game 4-1.

The Braves center fielder was overdue for a breakthrough game at the plate. Coming into Saturday’s game against The Mets, Harris II was batting a paltry 0.28, with just one hit in his last 36 at-bats. Unsurprisingly, the Braves played mediocre baseball, going (5-5) during this time frame.

Like most quality hitters enduring a prolonged hitting slide, the numbers suggested Mike was pressing a bit, as his chase rate had noticeably increased this season to 44.9%, a career high. Or was it simply just bad luck? Harris has walked just two times during his hitting funk, and has been putting the ball in play, making a lot of solid contact in his plate appearances. His hard hit rate is just slightly down from last season, 48.5% to 46.4%.

 

Michael Harris II Is The Five-Tool Diamond-Igniter For Lethal Atlanta Braves Squad

Last season, Money Mike, slotted mainly between the middle and lower half of the order, saved his best for the nine hole, where he became the most feared nine hitter in baseball. He hit .293 with 18 bro bombs, and 57 RBIs in 2023.

The ‘24 season started off promising for Harris II, as he was leading the team or near the team lead for hits, triples, home runs, total bases, batting average, slugging percentage and WAR during the first 21 games of the season, in which ATL held a 17-7 record. We at MLBbro believe Money Mike to be the backbone of this Atlanta Braves offense.

The Philadelphia Phillies are the hottest team in baseball right now, leading the league in wins with 28 while sweeping teams left and right courtesy of their solid pitching and impressive, offensive production. When you take a look inside the numbers, it’s not hard to figure out why; they rank top three in almost every major hitting and pitching statistical category.

Yet, in spite of all of that, the Atlanta Braves are sitting just 2.5 games out of first place, continuing to stay dangerous in the NL East, a division they’ve maintained a chokehold on over the past six seasons. If the Braves plan to keep pace with the red hot Phillies, and eventually supplant them atop the division, they’re going to need more performances from Michael Harris II, like the one they got yesterday against the Mets.

The Hits Keep Coming

The Hits Keep Coming

Michael Harris II had four hits — all before the 6th inning — and was just a homerun shy of the cycle in Atlanta’s 4-0 shutout over the Giants on Friday.

Money Mike Harris Hits Spring With Bro Bomb Swing

Is MLBbro Michael Harris II Trending Upwards Just In Time For the Atlanta Braves Postseason?

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.

Is “Money” Mike Harris Is The Most Dangerous 9 Hitter In MLB History?

 

Now let’s look at Michael Harris II improvements over the last couple of months, shall we?

 

June: Our MLBbro batted .372 (Remember his average had bottomed out to .167.) with an on base percentage of .388. Harris also collected five home runs, six doubles and 14 RBI. That strikeout problem? He only had 12 for the month; down from 24 the month before.

Atlanta’s Michael Harris II is Getting Back to the Money

July: A very solid .290 average continuing the consistency that was shown last season.

 

August: Through the first eight games of this month, Harris is having his hottest streak of the season. He’s batting .483 (14-29) with a .515 on-base percentage, a slugging percentage of .793 with three doubles, two homers and get this…14 RBI!

 

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.

 

 

Do The Atlanta Braves See MLBbro Taylor Hearn As The Missing Piece To A World Series Puzzle?

Do The Atlanta Braves See MLBbro Taylor Hearn As The Missing Piece To A World Series Puzzle?

If the league-leading Atlanta Braves have any vulnerability throughout their roster (Checking notes… still own the best record in the majors!), it would be the lack of flexibility and depth in the bullpen.

The front office, led by Alex Anthopoulos, didn’t wait until the hoopla of the MLB trade deadline to make a move; they brought in an MLBbro lefty for the stretch run right now, making a deal to acquire versatile hurler Taylor Hearn from the Texas Rangers for cash considerations earlier this week. 

 

 

This trade could be a beneficial situation for both sides.

 

Pros For Atlanta:

  • The Braves obtain a durable left-handed pitcher that is capable of going four to five innings in a relief or starting role.
  • Hearn’s contract is financially friendly for the Braves. Even though our MLBbro will get some opportunities on the mound, this is a low risk-high reward situation with the option of sending Hearn to Triple A Gwinnett.  
  • The Braves can also keep him through arbitration next season.
  • The coaching staff has time to develop an arm that is fresh. Hearn fell out of Texas’ rotation after pitching just seven innings in four appearances. In 2022, he pitched 100 innings and 104.1 in 2021. 

 

Pros For Taylor Hearn:

A change of scenery can resurrect a career and our MLBbro has a golden opportunity to audition for a role with what is considered one of the top pitching staffs in MLB.

 

Atlanta Braves Facing Injuries In The Bullpen 

The Atlanta Braves probably will be one of the few teams to punch their ticket to the postseason early, while others will be scratching for wildcard spots in the month of September. With the Braves sitting on top of the baseball world with a 64-36 record (as of July 28), it would be easy for the team to rest on their laurels and focus on keeping their players, particularly those arms on the pitching staff, off the IL. 

The injuries have been piling up and that’s not a good sign, because in baseball the team that is most healthy come October, usually prevails.

 

Check out some of the Atlanta relievers that are currently on the 60-day IL…

  • Nick Anderson out with a right shoulder strain.
  • Dylan Lee on the shelf with left shoulder inflammation.
  • Jesse Chavez is suffering from a bruised left shin.
  • A.J. Minter is dealing with his own bout of shoulder inflammation; however, he’s scheduled for a minor-league rehab assignment. 

 

Hearn Allows Braves To Rest Other Arms If They Clinch Early 

With Atlanta having a double-digit game lead over second-place Philadelphia Phillies, Hearn has time to find his rhythm while not being in a pressure cooker environment to make the playoffs. If our Hearn can put together a string of impressive performances, it would bode well for a future with one of the 30 MLB teams. 

 

 

Before being designated for assignment on July 19th, Hearn was optioned to Triple A Round Rock on April 13th. In 24 outings, including two starts, Hearn had a solid 2-2 record with a 3.66 ERA. He was used in starter and reliever roles during his tenure with the Rangers. But taking a closer look at our MLBbro’s success on the mound, his efforts as a reliever are much better.

According to Darragh McDonald of MLB Trade Rumors notes, Hearn’s ERA as a reliever stands at 3.94. As a starter, it skyrockets to 6.36. He leaves Texas with a 12-15 record and a 5.11 ERA in five seasons after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Keone Kela.