Atlanta Braves star Michael Harris II wins National League Rookie of the Year

‘Money Mike’ is celebrating
Atlanta Braves star Michael Harris II wins National League Rookie of the Year
Pictured, from left, are LaTaucha Harris, Michael Harris II and Michael Harris Sr. (Photo credit: Rashad Milligan for rolling out)

Michael Harris II has been named the 2022 National League Rookie of the Year. The star Atlanta Braves outfielder earned the honor after being called up from the AA Mississippi Braves in May.

After the announcement, Harris just reacted by posting a celebratory selfie.

“It was kind of surprising to hear my name,” Harris II told Bally Sports. “Coming up in the middle of the season and trying to do whatever to help the team win. I didn’t really expect this at the beginning of the year.”

An outstanding defender in the outfield, Harris finished his regular season with 123 hits and 19 home runs with a .297 batting average. His presence was felt immediately by the Braves when he skipped AAA ball for the big leagues, and the franchise rewarded him with an eight-year, $72-million extension in August.

Harris’ play helped lead the Braves to another National League East divisional title, as he beat out teammate pitcher Spencer Strider for the Rookie of the Year award. It’s the first time teammates finished in the top two of voting for the award since the Braves did it in 2011 with Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel.

Harris came to the Braves a season after the team won the 2021 World Series with a roster with infamously only one Black player on the active roster. It was the same year Hank Aaron, who frequently advocated for diversity in the sport, died. The lack of diversity problem in baseball’s championship series only got worse the next year, as there were zero Black players in the World Series for the first time since 1950. Dusty Baker then became the third Black manager to win a World Series after he said it was shameful it included zero Black players. Baker played with Aaron on the Braves’ team in the 1960s and 70s.

As for Harris, in addition to being a baseball star, he also plays the role of hometown hero on the Braves as a DeKalb County, Georgia, native. Harris’ friend Kameron Marshall told rolling out his Black youth-league players look up to “Money Mike” and often proudly boast about how they play with him on their video-game systems.

Harris is the humble person and exciting baseball player not only Atlanta needed, but the entire baseball landscape, as well. The outlook of Black players in baseball has looked bleak, to say the least, but with young stars like Harris on the rise, better days appear to be on the horizon of the diamond.

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