31 Jul

life of riley

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, runner at first base in a scoreless game in Atlanta, Austin Riley took a cutter down and in from Arizona’s Mark Melancon and drove it into the gap in right-center, scoring Matt Olson with the game-winning run. What else did you expect? Fans at Truist Park were chanting “MVP, MVP” as Riley, the former DeSoto Central High star, came to the plate, and he certainly has made a case. Here are the juicy numbers:
26: Extra base hits in July, most in a month by a Braves player, topping Hank Aaron’s 25 in 1961.
11: Home runs in July.
25: RBIs in July.
.423: Batting average in July.
.301: Batting average for the season.
29: Homers for the season.
31: Doubles for the season.
68: RBIs for the season.
61: Runs for the season.
.360: On-base percentage for the season.
.604: Slugging percentage for the season.
Only one Mississippi native, high school or college product has ever won an MVP: Grenada native Dave Parker with Pittsburgh in the National League in 1978. Riley, a Memphis native who grew up in Southaven, still has work to do, obviously, but he is building a jaw-dropping resume.

21 Sep

go figure

A panel of “MLB experts” overlooked Austin Riley in a recent mlb.com poll regarding top MVP candidates; he didn’t get a single vote. Those who follow the Atlanta Braves closely are scratching their heads. Former DeSoto Central High star Riley has been a major player in the Braves’ drive to the top of the National League East this summer, and he was at it again on Monday night. The Braves’ slumbering offense finally broke out in an 11-4 win at Arizona. Riley, the cleanup batter, contributed three doubles and three RBIs. For the year, the 24-year-old third baseman is batting .300 with 30 doubles, 29 homers, 92 RBIs and 81 runs. Since the All-Star break, he has batted .333 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs. He has been outstanding on defense, as well. It hurts Riley’s MVP case that he plays on a team that also features, among others, Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies and Adam Duvall, who’ve had many shining moments. The Braves have potentially crucial series looming against San Diego (Sept. 24-26) and Philadelphia (Sept. 28-30). Might be an opportunity for Riley to win over some voters. P.S. Tonight in Milwaukee, Mississippi State alum Brandon Woodruff (9-9, 2.55 ERA) gets his shot at stopping surging St. Louis, which has won nine straight to jump to second in the wild card race. … Ex-Ole Miss star Chris Ellis, who has found new life as a starter for Baltimore, won’t get a shot at the Phillies tonight because of arm fatigue. Ellis has been pushed back in the rotation because of a tired arm. He has a 2.82 ERA in five starts for the O’s. … Tampa Bay, running away with the American League East, sent Cody Reed to Triple-A Durham for a rehab appearance on Sunday, and the ex-Northwest Mississippi Community College star threw a scoreless inning. The left-hander might be due for a return to the big leagues.