Philadelphia – On Thursday Night, Michael Harris II and the Atlanta Braves season came to a disappointing end as they fell 3-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia’s series clenching victory on Thursday pushed their playoff home record to 26-11, the best in MLB playoff history according to the TBS broadcast.
Throughout the season we have raved at how historic the Atlanta offense was, but during this year’s NLDS it was Philadelphia who did the history making. In Game 1 the Phillies set a team record for most steals in a playoff game with five. In Game 3, the Phillies 6 homers were the most hit by any team in postseason history.
Right Fielder Nick Castellanos, who hit two homers of his own in their 10-2 Game 3 victory, added two more home runs in Game 4 to become the first player in MLB postseason history to hit two home runs in consecutive games.
As for the Braves, their pitching may have struggled but in the end the offense that tied the record for most home runs in MLB regular season history simply failed to do its part. Ronald Acuna Jr, Ozzie Albies, Marcell Ozuna and Matt Olsen combined for 0 home runs and just 1 extra base hit the entire series.
MLBbro Michael Harris II saw his postseason come to an end when he was pinch hit for by Travis d’Arnaud. Harris managed to get on base in Game 4 thanks to Trae Turner’s 2 base error but finished the 2023 postseason hitless and still has only one hit in his two postseason appearances.
HIs fellow MLBbro Vaughn Grissom was the only other MLBbro on the Braves NLDS roster, but unfortunately, he didn’t get an opportunity to contribute. Grissom struck out after being called to pinch hit with two out in the bottom of the 9th.
The Braves became the second national league team this postseason to be eliminated after winning 100 games, joining Dave Roberts and the LA Dodgers who were eliminated by Tommy Pham and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Atlanta won their 6th consecutive division crown this season, but for the second straight postseason Philadelphia is the final NL East team standing.
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.
The Atlanta Braves is the epitome of a baseball team with “Rich people problems”. As of this week, they have dominated teams out of the gate to the tune of having the largest division lead in Major League Baseball — seven games up on the rest of the National League East.
After starting the season 5-4, the Braves have won 20 of their last 28 to sit next to the Tampa Rays as the hottest team in baseball.
However, that doesn’t mean that Atlanta doesn’t have questions that need to be answered sooner than later.
One of the major storylines in spring training was who was going to replace Dansby Swanson at shortstop when he moved on to Chicago to play with the Cubs.
Some believed that our MLBbro Vaughn Grissom would be the odds on favorite to take the position, particularly with Orlando Arcia sidelined with a broken wrist.
But with Arcia returning to the shortstop position from injury without a rehab assignment, the Braves promoted Braden Shewmake and sent Grissom to the minors.
The #Braves today reinstated INF Orlando Arcia from the injured list. The club optioned INF Vaughn Grissom to Triple-A Gwinnett following last night’s game.
Now that we know what happens with Vaughn Grissom at this moment, what about his future? But before answering those questions, let’s take a look back to how far Vaughn has come.
A Baby MLBbro with grown MLBbro potential:
While Michael Harris II took most of the youth spotlight by winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award, Vaughn Grissom emerged from the shadows shocking the world of baseball by making major contributions to a playoff contending team.
His jump from Double-A to the parent club continued the Atlanta Braves tradition of finding and developing young talent to carry on the winning tradition into the future.
Last year, Vaughn was one of the youngest players in all of baseball. With the shining potential of Grissom, particularly with his bat, our MLBbro was believed to become the the other half of the youngest tag team threat in the lineup with Michael Harris II.
What has Vaughn Grissom accomplished with the Braves this season?
Even though our MLBbro has hitting splits of .277/.314/.308 in a 70 plate sample size, the major problem is in the field when he plays shortstop. In 19 games, Grissom collected six errors (Some on easy grounders) that might have him moving to another position when he returns from the minors. According to Outs Above Average via Sports Illustrated…
● He was placed at the 1st percentile in Outs Above Average at -4.
● This states that Grissom was the third worst shortstop in the majors.
● Now this advanced stat is based on the player based on opportunity. The amount of opportunities accumulated affects the numbers.
But looking at the success rate which provides more clarity, it doesn’t look much better. Grissom’s 64 percent success rate makes him the second worst defender in all of baseball behind Rodolfo Castro (Pittsburgh Pirates) and tied with Kike Hernandez with the worst success rate added with -8 percent.
Braves MLBbro third base coach Ron Washington has not given up on fellow MLBbro Grissom and explains why no one else should either via The Athletic…
“I feel real good about Griss,” Washington said. “All it is, is gaining experience. He was trying to learn how to play shortstop in the big leagues. He wasn’t learning how to play shortstop in the minor leagues. And learning how to play shortstop in the big leagues is night and day from playing shortstop in the minor leagues.”
“There’s so much that goes on out there when you’re in the middle of that field that you have to be involved in. So he had a lot on his plate. But he’s gained a lot too. You might not see it right now, but he’s gained a lot from spring training to now.”
Vaughn’s offense is not nearly as glaring as his defense, however. Our MLBbro is still capable of tearing the cover off the ball and forcing it out of any MLB park.
A few tweaks to his approach at the plate will help him immensely. First, more discipline at the plate allowing himself more walks can help. Grissom is a player that will hack at pitches at a high level swinging at 55 percent of the pitches offered to him this season. That is immensely higher than the league average of 47 percent.
This concept leads to inconsistent results at the plate for Grissom and the offensive output for the Braves. Despite the lack of discipline at times this season, Grissom is still hitting the ball harder this season than the last. In short, the time in the minors will help our MLBbro sharpen his approach at the plate along with his fielding.
Bottom line as of now…when Grissom is in rhythm, he’s really good, when he loses his moxy, it can get ugly at times.
Where does MLBbro, Vaughn Grissom go from here?:
Nowhere. He just needs to continue to work. Has this been the ideal start for Vaughn Grissom? No. But the baseball season is the Boston Marathon of sports so he has plenty of time to get things situated, particularly with an Atlanta Braves team that is tearing up the majors right now. Our MLBbro has a future in baseball. If the Braves give up on him (Most likely NOT!), there are plenty of other teams that will take on this outstanding prospect.
1. Remember this is a player with enough raw talent to leapfrog the Triple A level to play 22 games last year and make some waves in the lineup.
2. The man is still a young baseball prospect. He won’t turn 23 until next year in January.
3. When Grissom was called up, he didn’t go to the shortstop position. Atlanta put him at second base.
4. His first game against the Charlotte Bats, our MLBbro debuted with three hits (including a double) with a run scored.
5. He’s still putting up monster numbers for the Gwinnett Stripers. In a recent game against Nashville, Grissom went 2-4 with an RBI.
Look for Grissom’s trip to the minors as a fine tuning as opposed to a demotion. It’s a lot to ask any player to progress at the rate the Atlanta Braves were asking from this young player at this point of his career.
But best believe that Vaughn Grissom won’t be in a Gwinnett uniform long or be going back soon thanks to some advice he received from Ron Washington…
Vaughn Grissom shares Ron Washington's message to him:
"Wherever they put you, you just gotta go take care of business. At the end of the day, if you don't like it, play better. I just gotta go take care of my business and try to get back." pic.twitter.com/W2VwlLXWdH
There was a lot of meaningful baseball played on Saturday, and as one group of MLBbros heads for the offseason, another was pushed to the brink of advancing to the ALCS.
Atlanta Bros Eliminated
The Atlanta Braves World Series Title defense came to an abrupt end Saturday evening, as their 8-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies officially eliminated them from the playoffs. After providing the spark that helped Atlanta go 78-34 down the stretch, rookies Michael Harris II and Vaughn Grissom were unable to help the Braves overcome a Phillies team that has been on fire this postseason.
Harris was amazing during the regular season but couldn’t find a rhythm at the plate throughout this series. He finished the season batting .297 and missed a 20/20 season by one home run, but Michael hit just .071 in the series with one RBI.
Harris struggled at the plate, but what happened in the bottom of the third was even more uncharacteristic of him. Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto sent a shot into the left center field gap that Harris misplayed, allowing Realmuto to secure the ever so rare inside the park home run.
The Braves were outscored 24-13 in the series, and in their three losses the starting rotation gave up 15 hits and 14 runs in just 7.2 innings combined (14.09 ERA). Fellow rookie Vaughn Grissom didn’t see the field much this series, going 0-3 in the series but gaining some valuable experience.
Harris and Grissom may have struggled, but there is no reason to press the panic button in Atlanta. Both rookies gained valuable playoff experience and will be key to any future Braves playoff runs.
Cleveland One Game From ALCS
After a dominant playoff debut, Cleveland Guardians starter Triston McKenzie made two costly mistakes that gave the New York Yankees an early lead, but the Guardians were able to battle back and defeat the New York Yankees to take a 2-1 series lead.
McKenzie gave up four hits including a pair of two-run homers in his five innings of work on Saturday, striking out five along the way. Triston gave up his first two-run homer in the second inning to newly crowned American League home run king Aaron judge.
He managed to settle down for a few innings but found trouble again in the fifth, surrendering the second two-run shot to Yankees rookie Oswaldo Cabrera. The Guardians battled back in the ninth inning, and eventually pieced together five consecutive base hits to secure the victory.
Josh Naylor was 1-for-5 with three strikeouts but was still able to make a positive contribution on the offensive end, driving in a run on his first inning single. Naylor is 3-for-14 at home this postseason, a number the Guardians will need to see improve if they want to extend their season and force a Game 5.