Part of the reason the Atlanta Braves decided to let Freddie Freeman go during the offseason is because they feel the rest of their lineup, plus the addition of Matt Olson, is good enough to move on without him.
Riley, in particular, will try to prove that his 2021 breakout season was no fluke.
He is off to an excellent start during spring training, as he hit two home runs on Wednesday.
Of course, putting too much importance on spring training stats is not usually recommended, but it’s good to see him swinging the bat well and producing already.
2nd homer on the day… Austin Riley still confirmed good pic.twitter.com/1Hz14rrRF9
— Starting 9 (@Starting9) March 23, 2022
After two years hitting in the .220-.230 range, Riley broke through with a .303/.367/.531 line last year, in 160 games and 662 plate appearances.
He hit 33 home runs, scored 91 runs, and drove in 107.
He Probably Won’t Hit .300 Again, But He Is Legit
Of course, his strikeout percentage was a tad high at 25.4 percent, and his BABIP was very, very elevated, at .368.
BABIP means batting average in balls in play, and Riley’s mark was far higher than the average.
What does that tell us?
That his batting average should come down because he probably won’t have enough luck to keep his BABIP in the .360 range.
BABIP is not all luck, though, and Riley did hit the ball hard (45.6 percent of his batted balls traveled at 95 mph or more), increasing the odds of getting hits.
His ability to punish the ball will keep his batting average decent, although probably not in the .300 range.
In other words, the Braves have a great one: he is not a .300 hitter, but he can sure hit .270-.280 with at least 30 home runs.
That’s extremely valuable, and it’s good to see him off to a good start at the plate.NEXT: Austin Riley And The Braves Set To Battle It Out For A New Deal