The Atlanta Braves are serious contenders to defend their World Series crown this season. After a lackluster start to the year, the team has been on a dominant tear in the National League. They trail the Mets by just three games in the division. NL East crown or not, though, this team is looking like a tough out in the postseason.
A big reason for the Braves' success comes from a pair of outstanding rookies they brought in this season. Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II have been lighting it up for the team in their own ways. Their exploits in their different positions have made them rivals in a way, as they compete for the National League Rookie of the Year.
For most of the regular season, fans have been discussing which Braves rookie should win the NL Rookie of the Year award. However, there's always the possibility of both of them as co-Rookie of the Year winners in the National League. There's precedent for this, too: the last co-winners of the ROY award was in 1979. The NL saw their last double winners of the award in 1976.
So, should Spencer Strider and Michael Harris II co-own the NL Rookie of the Year trophy? Here's a couple of reasons why that should happen.
The major reason why Braves' Spencer Strider, Michael Harris should share NL RotY for first time since 1976
Near-equal value to the team
The nature of starting pitcher rotations in the MLB makes it hard to compare the performance of Spencer Strider to Michael Harris II on a day-to-day basis. After all, Harris II is always playing for the Braves, while Strider starts once every five games, and often does not finish games.
Still, the eye test and the stats show that both players have been extremely valuable to the Braves' regular-season dominance. Let's start with Strider, who was in the headlines recently for his record-breaking 16-K performance against the Rockies. In that game, Strider completely dominated the opposition, allowing just two men on base the entire game.
Strider's value lies in his ability to strike out even the best hitters in the MLB with basically just two pitches. The Braves righty throws one of the meanest fastballs in the game, regularly clocking at 100 mph on StatCast. That alone should terrify opponents, but then he throws a nasty slider that gets batters shaken up. He's posting an ERA of 2.67 and an FIP of 1.84 while striking out batters left and right. He's been the perfect complement to Max Fried's excellence this year.
On the other side of the ball is Michael Harris II, the Braves' rookie center fielder. Atlanta's outfielder position ohas been a rather mixed bag this season. Eddie Rosario, one of the heroes of last year's playoff run, struggled immensely at the plate. Robbie Grossman has been alright. Ronald Acuna Jr is playing well, but knee issues clearly hurt his play. Marcell Ozuna… we don't talk about him.
Harris' arrival on the main roster has been a god-send for the Braves for two reasons. Firstly, he adds much-needed firepower to a Braves unit that needed it badly. He's posting a batting average near .300 with an OPS of .867 for the year. His power at the plate has come in clutch for the team in crucial moments.
It's on defense, though, where Michael Harris II truly shines. The Braves outfielder has had some Gold Glove-esque moments on the field, saving the team from near-disaster multiple times. He's currently sporting a .995 fielding percentage, and is probably one of the best defenders Atlanta has on the outfield.
Both Strider and Harris II have been important pieces to the Braves' championship aspirations despite being rookies. It's only fair to give both of them the NL Rookie of the Year award to honor their excellence.