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NL Rookie of the Year Prediction: And Then There Were Two

Braves rookies are head-to-head on closest awards races this year.

Two Atlanta Braves stars will battle side-by-side until the end for the National League Rookie of the Year award. With only a few days left in the regular season, pitcher Spencer Strider and outfielder Michael Harris are the leading candidates.

Ronald Acuña Jr. was the last Braves player to take home the prestigious award, when in 2018 he batted for .293, with 26 home runs and 64 RBIs. Before him, pitcher Craig Kimbrel took it in 2011, with 46 saves and 127 strikeouts in 77 innings pitched, posting a good 2.10 ERA.

Spencer Strider

Pitcher Spencer Strider is coming off a spectacular 2022 campaign, with an 11-5 record, a 2.67 ERA and an absurd 202 strikeouts in 131.2 innings pitched. The 23-year-old righty was leading the race to take home the NL Rookie of the Year award, however, an oblique injury will keep him out until the end of the regular season.

Since joining the rotation in May, Strider is 10-4 with a 2.77 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 107.1 innings. The Ohio native has allowed two or fewer runs in 16 of his 20 starts and in nine of 10.

Maybe his injury won't affect the voting for the award because, at the end of the day, Strider has been a largely dominant pitcher in the league, having hit double-digit strikeouts in six of his 20 starts. It will all depend on what teammate Michael Harris can do to overtake him in the balloting.

Michael Harris

Considering Strider’s injury, Michael Harris has a free way to close the season strong and establish good arguments to finally win the ROY. The 21-year-old outfielder is hitting .306, with 19 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 64 RBIs and 27 doubles.

Harris will be just the 13th rookie in major league history to have at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in their rookie season. Randy Arozarena did it last season with exactly 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, while Julio Rodriguez of the Mariners just pulled it off with the Mariners in 2022, putting up a staggering 27 home runs and 25 stolen bases so far.

With only seven games left in the regular season and an epic race to the finish between the Braves and Mets for the NL East, Michael Harris is not only on a mission to keep pace for the Rookie of the Year Award, but more importantly, to help his team win the division.

Although his numbers against the pitchers he will face over the next four games are not promising, Harris is on fire, hitting .310 with a long ball and five runs batted in over the last seven days.

Michael Harris vs probable starters:

Josiah Gray (WSH): Never faced him before

Chris Bassit (NYM): 1 AB | 0 H | 1 BB | 1 SO | .000 AVG

Jacob deGrom (NYM): 4 AB | 0 H | 0 BB | 4 SO | .000 AVG

Max Scherzer (NYM): 6 AB | 1 H | 1 BB | 0 SO | .167 AVG