Braves: Could Ronald Acuña still win the MVP?

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Over the past ten games, Ronald Acuña Jr. has been on a tear, slashing .368/.432/.684 with seven RBIs and two stolen bases. This monster stretch has made me start to wonder: could Ronnie claw his way into the NL MVP conversation despite missing 29 games so far?

*Note: Stats are from before Wednesday’s games

Baselines

To explore this question, we must look into past MVPs and see how many games they’ve played. Since 2015, there are a few players that stand out to back up Acuña’s case. 

Mike Trout’s 2019 MVP season was insane. Not that it’s fair to compare anyone to Trout — his 45 dingers and 1.083 OPS that season is something only he can do, but it is also important to remember the league was using juiced balls during that season. Anyways, Trout played 134 games in his MVP campaign, which is about the number Acuña could reach if he played every game from now on.

Mookie Betts’ 2018 MVP season when he appeared in 136 games is another notable year. Betts dominated that season, slashing .346/.438/.640 with 32 homers and 30 steals. It’s unlikely Acuña will ever get on base quite that frequently, but a 30 HR, 30 steal season is within reach.

And most recently, Bryce Harper won the award last year and only played in 141 games. Acuña’s already missed more time than that, but it’s yet another example of a player missing a significant amount of games and taking home the hardware. What will really determine whether or not Acuña has a case for the award is the other contenders in the National League.

Other contenders

While there weren’t a ton of clear cut favorites for the NL Most Valuable Player last year, there are a few that have made their case so far. Paul Goldschmidt has torn up pitching, getting on base at a .423 clip while raking in RBIs. His 47 runs batted in are second in the National League. Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Mookie Betts are all contenders for the award as well. 

It’s a crowded field, and it will be tough for Acuña to stand out in a smaller sample size, but we are talking about a top three player in the game of baseball. If he gets going and catapults the Braves to another division title after tearing his ACL, the story alone might carry him to the award. 

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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