Atlanta Braves rookie Austin Riley has been a home run-hitting machine since being called to the major leagues on May 15.
The 22-year-old slugger announced his presence by launching a home run in just his second career at-bat against St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha. He hasn’t stopped providing power since.
On Wednesday, Riley hit the 10th home run of his season and career less than one month after his call up, and this one was pretty big for several reasons.
Of utmost importance to the Braves, his ninth-inning blast tied their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Braves would go on to win 8-7 in 11 innings when Riley scored on Ozzie Albies’ double.
In a historical sense, Riley put his name above many of the most iconic and decorated players who have worn the Braves uniform (from Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta) by reaching double-digits faster than any player in franchise history during the modern era.
That includes longtime home run king Hank Aaron and Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Chipper Jones. And to be honest, none came close to Riley’s pace.
With this game-tying home run, Austin Riley became the fastest #Braves player in the modern era to reach double-digit career home runs. Tonight is Riley’s 26th game; Wally Berger held the old record of 29 games, set in 1930. #ChopOn https://t.co/ZtaGz8jtad
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) June 13, 2019
26 games. That’s all it took.
By comparison, here’s how long other Braves Hall of Famers and legends took to reach 10 homers.
Hank Aaron: 64 games
Eddie Mathews: 49 games
Chipper Jones: 59 games
Andruw Jones: 96 games
Dale Murphy: 106 games
Joe Adcock: 111 games
Where Austin Riley ranks in MLB history
Only a handful of players in MLB history have reached 10 home runs faster than Riley.
George Scott of the Boston Red Sox (1966) and Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies (2016) did it in 21 games, while Gary Sanchez of the New York Yankees reached 10 in 22 games between 2015 and 2016.
Yeah, we know, 10 homers doesn’t make a career. Many players have started fast, only to fade into oblivion shortly after. Many players have started slower, or younger, and matured at a later age.
It’s also a different game, with perhaps a vastly different baseball. That changes the context when comparing previous eras. Still, it takes an undeniable amount of skill and power to do the damage Riley has done during his short time with the Braves.
Pete Alonso of the New York Mets will certainly run away with National League Rookie of the Year as long as he stays healthy and his production doesn’t fall off a cliff. Riley, though, has quickly put himself in the conversation for the runner-up spot, and might be able to gain ground if Alonso falters.
We can safely say one thing: Braves fans are thrilled to have Austin Riley.
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