2022 Braves Player Review: Michael Harris II

He was drafted out of high school in 2019, a few years after he started training with Marquis Grissom in high school. Grissom brought him and Lou Collier’s son Cam into a bootcamp-style training program during the pandemic year of 2020. After all the training, Cam Collier was the 18th overall draft pick in 2022. And Michael was one of the best players in the league.

Unlike Cam Collier’s dad, Michael Harris Sr. didn’t play in the pros, but he had his own longtime relationship to the game, as Clinton Yates wrote for Andscape. Mike Sr. became a “legend” at Gresham Park in DeKalb County, and went on to play semipro ball in his teens before being discovered by a coach at Alcorn State, where they recruited him to play college ball. Like Dansby, Michael comes from a Georgia sports family.

(Gresham Park has a legacy of its own. Along with Michael, Braves farmhands Jalen Miller and Trey Harris also played there. Last year, MLB rolled out a $1.5 million renovation and renamed its main park for Henry Aaron. Morehouse College now plays its games there.)

Michael Harris only played a total of 197 games in the minor leagues, steadily progressing through Rookie ball, A, High-A, and Double-A during the last few months of 2019, the shortened season of 2021, and the spring of 2022, before being called up as the youngest player in the majors, on May 28. Two and a half months later, the Braves handed him a $72 million contract; three months after that, the league handed him a Rookie of the Year trophy.

I imagine this is how Geppetto felt when Pinocchio became a real boy.

It really isn’t supposed to be this easy. You’re not supposed to be able to just call up a guy who hardly anyone outside of Atlanta had ever heard of and just get five WAR from him. (And you’re definitely not supposed to do it twice, like they did with the fella from Clemson who took the silver medal in the ROY.)

Michael Harris did all these things while displaying all five tools: he hit for average (.297); hit for power (.217 ISO, 22.9% HR/FB); played great defense (7 Outs Above Average, tied for 10th-best among MLB outfielders); showed a good throwing arm (2.9 Outfield Arm Runs Above Average, 11th-best); and ran both fast and effectively (20 SB with only two CS). His Statcast page is pretty amazing: 95th percentile in sprint speed, 95th percentile in arm strength, 92nd percentile in Outs Above Average, 89th percentile in Outfielder Jump, 69th percentage in barrels, 61st percentile in average exit velocity.

Oh, and he did that “Meow” interview thing that was hilarious and adorable.

The only real negatives: he struck out five times as often as he walked, and he was 1-14 in the postseason. Then again, he also won’t turn 22 until March.

His plate discipline was the weakest part of his game, and it’s a real concern. Per Statcast, he swung at 38.9% of pitches outside the zone, hugely above the league average of 29.1%, and he swung at a slightly below-average number of pitches in the zone. He was in the 26th percentile in Whiff%, 10th percentile in BB%, and the 7th percentile in Chase Rate.

This year, about half the pitches he saw were inside the zone, right around the league average; expect that number to drop sharply until he adjusts. That said, I have nearly limitless confidence in his ability to adjust: his makeup is off the charts, and in his meteoric ascent from high school to the majors over the past three years, he has shown a preternatural ability to meet the challenges he’s faced on the field.

Upside: he gets his plate discipline from frightening to below average, and evolves into a somewhat above-average hitter with good power and good up-the-middle defense, which is a perennial four-win player with some All-Star bids and one or two high MVP finishes.

Downside: he crushes mistakes but can’t master the zone. His glove keeps him in the lineup and keeps him as a two-win player, but 2022 is an offensive career year for him.

The game has come easily to him so far, but now that he’s the Rookie of the Year, he’ll be a major target in the lineup. Pitchers are going to throw him junk in the dirt until he learns to lay off and take the walk. Jeff Francoeur never did.

Money Mike’s sophomore campaign is likely to be a grind, but if he can learn what to spit on, the sky is the limit.

Like his mom, LaTaucha Harris, said to WSB: “He’s an A-town boy. That sums it up. Everything A.”

14 thoughts on “2022 Braves Player Review: Michael Harris II”

  1. Embrace it, folks! It’s happening!

  2. I wonder if both @1 and @3 could end up true. If we resigned Dansby, added a platoon bat in LF, and another Relief arm; that may very well put us in top 5. If it doesn’t, when some of these extensions start to kick in we will definitely be pushing up that payroll list.

  3. I congratulate Michael Harris for being voted as the National League rookie of the year. Great effort I wish you a Most Blessed, Joyous, Healthy and Prosperous career as an outfielder of the. Atlanta Braves. Thank you for your contribution 🙏 to the Atlanta Braves both as offense and Defence. Ronald Acuna did the same in his Rookie year and has been successful ever since. Bill Edwards Sports Editor Of 🌴 coast Tribune .

  4. If you’re John Malone, this is what you do to set up selling the team and minimizing the tax bite. The spinoff is tax free and the stock market price of the new entity effectively resets the cost basis.

  5. @ 8 – So, after years of waiting to get out from under Liberty’s financial restrictions, we’ll probably get sold to some cheapskate after finally getting into position to have a top 5 payroll.

  6. @10, And they’ll meddle incompetently, etc.

    I can already hear crowds chanting “Bring back corporate ownership!”

  7. Greetings from Lexington, Ky…

    A few days ago, I finished one of those fan email surveys from the Braves. In it, the survey asked, “Who is your favorite recent Braves player?”

    My answer: Michael Harris II

    It’s tough to find a great defensive CF who can hit, esp. w/ power. Yeah, he’s got some things to learn at the plate, but (like a lot of us) I very much look forward to watching his growth. I think we got a good one.

    Go Dogs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *