Braves center fielder Michael Harris II The Baseball Writers Association of America announced that he won the National League’s Rookie of the Year award. His teammate followed him Spencer Stryder and Cardinals player Brendan Donovan ranked second and third, respectively.
This has long been seen as a two-horse race, with the pair of Atlanta players separating themselves from the pack. Harris, a third-round draft pick in 2019, has emerged as one of the game’s most interesting prospects with a 2021 High-A appearance. He started the year at Double-A but quickly proved too advanced for the par, ripping opposing pitchers through 43 games played. The Braves made the bold decision to skip him Triple-A altogether, and installed him as an everyday position player upon being invited to the major leagues in late May.
Harris fielded excellently for the World Series winners. The left-handed hitter has posted a .297/.339/.514 streak through his first 441 big league games. He didn’t draw many walks, but Harris hit close to . 300 while calling on 19 home runs and hitting 20 bases. He also played an excellent defense at quarterback, making the defensive save to put him eight runs above average with the glove. Statcast estimated he was six runs above par, and the 21-year-old now looks like one of the most promising position players in the game.
Meanwhile, Stryder looks like one of the best young arms in the sport. After being a fourth round draftee in 2020, he instantly outlasted this somewhat mediocre draft pick. The right-hander got a major league shortstop late last season and started this year in the MLB bullpen. By mid-May, he had been moved into the rotation, and his excellent fastball combination continued to bewilder the major league hitters. The 24-year-old has pitched in 131 2/3 innings of 2.67 balls ERA between the bullpen and the starting basemen, striking out 38.3% against opponents along the way.
Being ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on the Rookie of the Year ballot takes on significance beyond mere prestige now, thanks to provisions in the new collective bargaining agreement. The Anti-Corruption Act contained measures designed to counter manipulation of service time through what is called the “odds enhancement incentive”. The top two Player of the Year award winners who are among the top 100 prospects on at least two preseason lists of Baseball America, ESPN, and MLB Pipeline are automatically awarded a full year of service.
Harris meets all three criteria and would therefore earn a full year of service, though he did sign an eight-year mid-season contract extension that negates any chance of him going through arbitration and pushing his way into free agency. A full service year would be a small step in Harris’ final 10-year payout in the majors and associated pension and potential non-trade benefits. Strider earned a full year of service by playing 172-plus days on the MLB roster regardless, though he also later signed an extension.
The second PPI will not enter play in the National League. A player who meets the aforementioned prospect criteria, who enters the year with fewer than 60 days of service and has spent enough time on the MLB roster to earn a full year of service regardless of awards expiry, will have his team receive a bonus draft option with a top-two finish. Harris qualified for prospect criteria but was not on the MLB roster long enough for a year of full service without award bonus. Strider compiled the service time item but did not appear in the preseason top 100 in either MLB Pipeline, BA, or ESPN. Unlike the Mariners, who were given an additional pick based on Julio Rodriguez Al Roy wins, the brave Will not Bonus selection accumulation.
Harris received 22 of the 30 first-place nods, and Stryder received the other eight votes. Harris and Stryder were 1-2 in some sort of ranking on 29 of 30 polls, with the Reds closing in. Alexis Diaz to earn a second-place vote. Donovan finished third with a .281/.394/.379 score. He made over 468 plate appearances in utility capacity for St. Louis; He received 22 third-place votes. Arizona player Jake McCarthyCincinnati writer Nick Ludolo and Pittsburgh shortstop O’Neill cruise Join Diaz in getting stray support.
The full voting breakdown is available here.
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