That’s more or less exactly how you draw it up. Varsity went 8, and gave up little more than a solo homer, and the bats woke up from their snooze long enough to hang a deeply crooked number on the board, and there wasn’t much else.
Vaughn Grissom had three singles and Michael Harris II nearly hit one out to the same place he homered on Monday, but had to content himself with a booming double.
But speaking of them, I’ll just take the conversation from the last thread and bring it into this post:
Better than the Baby Braves?
I know that to some extent this happens every year, and this is part of what makes baseball so magical, but I just personally can’t think of another case of three rookies like Strider, Harris, and Grissom being unexpectedly pressed into action and immediately performing so extraordinarily.
Obviously, the 2005 Baby Braves are the best comparison, but to be bluntly honest, most of the Baby Braves performed more like effective role players than present or future stars, obviously with the exceptions of Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann.
(McCann’s OPS was .745, which was mighty impressive for a 21-year old catcher; for comparison, William Contreras was 21 during his rookie campaign last year, and he OPS’ed .701. Both Contreras and McCann immediately became All-Stars in their sophomore campaigns.)
But the rest of the guys more more like also-rans — Wilson Betemit and Kelly Johnson looked like future starters, but they were more or less average in their first go-around; Ryan Langerhans and Pete Orr looked like future utility guys; Macay McBride and Blaine Boyer looked like future pen arms; Kyle Davies and Andy Marte were hot prospects but they flopped in their first look at the majors and never turned it around.
This year, Strider and Harris have been absolute studs for two months, among the better players in the league from the moment they touched down, and I don’t know what to say about Vaughn Grissom’s first two weeks other than to say that I’m not sure I’ve seen anything on the baseball field that he doesn’t do well, and he’s probably going to be lacing up his cleats somewhere for the next 15 years.
This is more like the greatest rookie classes we’ve seen: in 1990, Greg Olson, Dave Justice, Mark Lemke, Steve Avery; 1994, Klesko and Javy (and should have included Chipper); 1996, Andruw Jones and Jermaine Dye (and Jason Schmidt, long before becoming an ace).
But those guys were, for the most part, lionized as the future of the organization before their callups. These guys were called up early, due to injuries. Then they just grabbed the brass ring.
The 2005 rookie class was unbelievable in terms of its size. But these guys haven’t just shown up, they have been the stars of the club. Strider’s second on the team in pitching WAR, behind only Max Fried (4.5 to 3.3), and Fried has thrown 50% more innings. Harris is third on the team in position player WAR, behind Swanson and Riley (they’re at 5.1 and 4.5, and he’s at 3.2), and they have approximately 80% more plate appearances than he does.
If you prorate by playing time, Strider and Harris have arguably been the two best players on the team. (And Grissom’s been worth 1.2 wins in 14 games, which is equally insane.)
Obviously, what happens from here on out is anybody’s guess, and this is a hard game. They’ll take their lumps, they’ll slump and struggle, and it won’t always look this easy. But still, for me, what they’ve done so far is getting close to Andruw hitting two homers in the World Series kind of territory. What in the world can’t these kids do?