The Rookie of the Year race is all but decided in the American League, with Julio Rodriguez leading by a substantial margin, but the National League award isn’t as straightforward. It’s a two-man race in the NL, and both youngsters play for the Braves — Spencer Strider and Michael Harris. The former has a slight edge in terms of odds, but it’s razor-thin.
We’ll start with the reigning NL Rookie of the Month.
During July, Atlanta’s Huckleberry posted a 2.70 ERA with 41 strikeouts over 26.2 innings pitched. And his 2.14 FIP even suggests he’s been a bit unlucky. Strider also only allowed a minuscule .158 average against opposing batters. The rookie has established himself as the team’s second ace behind Max Fried and might even challenge him for the best starter in the rotation sooner rather than later.
To begin the year, Strider dominated out of the bullpen. He boasted a 2.22 ERA and ridiculous 1.45 FIP. Over that same stretch, Strider only allowed batters to hit for a .167 average, striking out 37 of them. Then, he switched roles, but it’s just been more of the same from the hard-throwing righty.
In 13 starts, Strider boasts a 3.77 ERA, but his 2.17 FIP suggests he’s been extremely unlucky. An uncharacteristically terrible outing against the Mets absolutely nuked his ERA, in which Strider only made it through 2.2 innings while surrendering four earned runs. Excluding that wart of a start, Strider’s 3.02 ERA is much more impressive.
Among rookies, Strider leads all pitchers in the MLB in fWAR (3.1) with John Schreiber trailing far behind (1.3 fWAR). He’s also posted an unbelievable 13.85 K/9 over 89.2 innings pitched. He’s by far the best rookie pitcher and might even be in the conversation with some of the top starters in baseball.
Michael Harris is having an equally impressive debut for the Braves. He leads all NL rookie position players in fWAR (2.5) while slashing .289/.328/.496 with an .824 OPS, 11 home runs, 37 RBIs, and 13 stolen bags. He’s been outstanding at the plate, but he’s been even better defensively, reminding many Braves fans of Andruw Jones in centerfield. The rookie surely has several Gold Gloves in his future, accumulating a 3.5 defensive fWAR in just 66 games.
Both players will be instrumental in the Braves’ quest for another World Series.
Photographer: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire