Riley playing like an MVP for Braves

Riley emerges as a force in Atlanta

Austin Riley

With each game, Austin Riley’s case for National League MVP becomes more and more compelling.

Indeed, in their All-Star third baseman, the Atlanta Braves have a young slugger in the midst of another career year on a team looking to win its fifth consecutive NL East title and second straight world championship.

As of late July, the 25-year-old Mississippi product was batting .294 with 28 home runs, 64 RBI, an on-base percentage of .356 and an OPS of .945. He was especially hot in July with an 18-game hitting streak during which he hit .444 with eight homers, 16 RBIs and a 1.383 OPS.

Such hitting prowess has gotten the attention of opposing pitchers, who puzzle over how to pitch him.

“He kills fastballs,” Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval said after surrendering two hits to Riley in a late July game. “I heard … that he has the hardest exit velo against breaking balls, too. So it’s tough. You have to execute.”

Nearly snubbed for the All-Star Game, Riley was chosen as a reserve on the NL team, a similar fate suffered by another Atlanta third baseman, Chipper Jones, in 1999. That year, the Braves great went on to win the MVP award.

Along with fellow MVP candidates Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson, he’s part of a formidable middle of the order for Atlanta, one that will need to be hitting on all cylinders if they are to win the East and make another World Series run.

Riley and the Braves can be seen in action Saturday, Aug. 27, when they continue a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals in a regional game airing on Fox.

Full name: Michael Austin Riley

Birth date: April 2, 1997

Birthplace: Memphis, Tenn.

Height/weight: 6 feet, 3 inches/240 pounds

Teams: Atlanta Braves (2019-present)

Position: Third base

Bats/throws: Right/right

No.: 27

Honors and achievements: All-Star (2022); World Series champion (2021); Silver Slugger Award (2021); All-MLB First Team (2021)

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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