Michael Harris II exudes no emotions but lots of talent and confiden atlanta braves jersey boys ce as Braves' new $72 million manAugust 18, 2022
ATLANTA — Two hours after a crowded and celebratory news conference to mark arguably the biggest moment in his life, Braves rookie Michael Harris II sat quietly at his locker Wednesday afternoon, all alone, engaged in a minor struggle to get some stubborn athletic socks onto his feet.
It was a small moment of human normalcy in an afternoon that had been anything but for the unassuming 21-year-old, whose nickname — Money Mike — had suddenly become quite the accurate moniker. It was also a moment that encapsulated the essence of Harris after a couple of months in the big leagues: a noticeable and determined presence, but not one to draw undue attention to himself.
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Yet, the moment offered no hint that Harris, the youngest player in MLB this season, had signed an eight-year, $72 million contract extension that will keep him with the Braves through at least 2030. After just 71 games as a big leaguer, Harris, an Atlanta-area native, got the ultimate vote of confidence from his hometown team. Harris has plenty of confidence in himself, too, and we'll get to that in a bit.
But fi atlanta braves jersey harris rst: Why would a defending World Series champion give an eight-year, $72 million contract to a kid who was riding buses in the low minors just one year ago? A valid question, perhaps, but only if you've never seen Michael Harris II play baseball. If you have, though, it's pretty muc atlanta braves jersey 13 h a no-brainer — for multiple reasons.
The glove: 'He covers so much ground'
First, there's Harris' calling card.
"Platinum glove-quality center field," Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud told The Sporting News. "It's pretty incredible to see a ball hit off someone's bat and think there's no shot, and then he gets there easily and he's standing under it like a piece of cake."
This is a common theme when polling Harris' teammates about his abilities — the constant surprise, even awe at what he's able to do in center field.
"Gosh, he covers so much ground out there," Austin Riley told TSN. "There's balls that've been hit and I'm like, 'That's probably not getting caught,' and the next thing you know, he's making (the catch).
"He covers so much ground and saves so many runs."
Indeed, Harris' six Outs Above Average (in MLB's 94th percentile) is tied for second-most among all center fielders and his five Defensive Runs Saved leads the NL at the position. Both numbers are even more impressive considering that Harris didn't debut until May 28.
But it's not just the range, Riley said. "He's got a hose, too." Observe:
The bat: 'Pretty incredible'
Since arriving in late May, Harris has lengthened the Braves' lineup considerably, primarily in the nine spot.
Coming into play Wednesday, through 254 at-bats, Harris led all qualified MLB rookies with a .825 OPS. He was named NL Rookie of the Month in June with a .347/.371/.574 and since June 13 leads all rookies in homers with 12 and is second in hits with 58.
"To have the production he's had at th Jorge Soler Marlins Jerseys e plate has been pretty incredible," d'Arnaud said.
The Braves don't view it Pete Alonso as a coincidence that the team turned its season around with a 14-game winning streak that began just a few days after Harris arrived.
"He brought a spark," staff ace Max Fried said. "… He's been a big catalyst for us."
Added Riley: "Just being a guy atlanta braves dansby swanson jersey hitting nine hole who can do damage and be consiste atlanta braves jersey 2xl xxl nt at the plate (has been huge). He's put up very professional at-bats."
The speed, the cool: 'I don't even think I have emotions'
The more Harris plays, the more he shows off the five coveted tools.
A sizable percentage of his powers comes from sprint speed that's just a few ticks away from "elite." (His 29.3 feet per second puts him in MLB's 94th percentile in the category.) That comes in handy both when he chases down those seemingly impossible-to-catch fly balls and when he runs the bases. To wit: He's 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts, a total that leadMLB Blanketss all NL rookies.
Harris has also drawn praise for one of his in Kris Bryant Rockies Jerseystangibles: Though just 21, he never seems to get rattled or feel overwhelmed by the stage or the moment. "A slow heartbeat" is how manager Brian Snitker likes to describe it.
Harris offers a simple reason.
"Honestly, I don't even think I have emotions," he told reporters Wednesday. "Like when I got drafted, I didn't have any emotion. I was just staring at the TV. Everybody else was running around the living room. I'm just the one person standing there, no emotion. … I don't really show emotion in the moment."
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Put it all together and it was a long-term relationship the Braves had to have.
"I told him in spring training, 'I'm not trading you,'" general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Wednesday. "When we made the Matt Olson trade … I think our clubhouse was obviously shocked by some of the guys that got moved. But we were really excited about him long term."
The confidence: 'It's all the same game'
The Braves' confidence in Harris is perhaps matched only by Harris confidence in himself. After he finally got those socks on at his locker in that quiet moment before Wednesday's game against the Mets, I asked Harris whether he's been surprised by his early success at the big league level, given that he never played above Double-A before his call-up.
"Yes and no," he told me. "I feel like growing up I had the right people around me to kind of guide me to do the right things and be prepared for this moment. I feel like just because I've had them in my life and teaching me the right ways has allowed me to do what I'm doing now."
The surprising part, he said? The transition from Double-A standout to everyday MLB player has been easier than expected. It's still just baseball.
"I feel like it's all the same game," Harris said. "The biggest difference is the amount of fans and, I guess, the lifestyle. But I feel like pretty much it's the same (style of) play as Double-A."
The elite competition has not been a surprise, however. Harris knew what he was getting in to after his promotion, but this is where he belongs, having played himself to the top of the list of NL Rookie of the Year contenders.
"I kind of expected it to be the highest, hardest level," Harris said. "I feel everything is pretty much living up to what I expected it to be."
And so far, as the eight-year extension would suggest, Harris has been just what the Braves expected too.