Second Year MLBbro Blues: Sophomore Year Hasn’t Been Kind To Money Mike Harris & King Vaughn Grissom
As we reach the quarter mark of the 2023 season, everything looks great in Atlanta.
The Braves are once again sitting atop the NL East with a comfortable five game lead. They’re the only team in their division with a positive run differential, as their +52 diff only trails Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers (+54) for best in the National League.
Unfortunately for our MLBbros Michael Harris II and Vaughn Grissom, the young guns haven’t figured much into Atlanta’s success this season, albeit for two different reasons. Lets take a quick look at the issues faced by these two baby bro bombers this season.
Injury Bug Bites Harris
Michael Harris came into this season having already secured the 2022 National League Rookie of the Year as well as an eight-year, $72 million contract extension that assured him a place in Atlanta’s core going forward.
But only seven games into the season, Money Mike would suffer his first setback, being placed on the 10-day IL due to a lower back strain. Harris eventually returned to the lineup after a brief rehab stint at the end of April, but one wrong move down in Miami hobbled the centerfielder once again.
Harris hyperextended his right knee while trying to beat out a base hit, a moment that surely terrified Braves fans across the country. Harris himself admitted he thought the injury would be major. “I was thinking I was gonna have to be carried off the field at first, and that was going to be the end of my season,” said Harris.
Fortunately for Harris and the Braves there was no structural damage to the knee, and he will avoid another trip to the IL. Money Mike gave fans a flash of the excitement he was known for last season with his walk-off double last week against Cedric Mullins and the Baltimore Orioles, but he will need time to regain his 2022 form.
Grissom’s Defensive Setback
With the departure of former franchise cornerstone Dansby Swanson this offseason in free agency, there were many around the Braves organization who were looking for Grissom to take over as the starting shortstop. Despite his electric debut last season at the plate, Vaughn has struggled to adjust to playing shortstop every day at the big league level.
The Braves took the cautious approach by starting Grissom with their Triple A affiliate Gwinnett in order to allow him to refine himself defensively. But when he did return, his glove continued to struggle. Grissom committed six errors in 18 starts at shortstop and looked lost at times on defense. This is a complete 180 from the defensive wizardry of Swanson, who committed just eight errors in 161 games last year.
His regression has scared some fans, but this is a time to remember that Grissom is just 22 years old, and last season he was called up out of necessity, not because Braves brass felt that he was ready to take over as the everyday shortstop. Utility man Orlando Arcia has served as a stopgap for the time being, and the team has remained one of the best in baseball.
Before Grissom can truly be considered the shortstop of the future in Atlanta, he has to shore things up defensively. He’s shown that he is more than capable of performing at the plate, and ironing out the kinks at shortstop could see him join the very core that Michael Harris has already been added to.