On a night where the Braves finally won three straight games, Ronald Acuña might have made the best offensive play of the contest, and it didn’t even involve a hit. With Adam Duvall standing on second with one out in extra innings, Acuña fell behind in the count 0-2, only to battle all the way back and draw a walk. Dansby Swanson was hit by a pitch on the very next offering, and before you know it, the Braves had a 3-0 lead, eyeing their first extra-inning win of the season.
It gets taken for granted, but Acuña has played some splendid baseball coming off of a torn ACL. Even without hitting for much power — only two homers through his first 23 games — he’s racked up 0.9 WAR, thanks to a .291 batting average and .400 OBP. The nine successful steals on ten attempts doesn’t hurt either.
However, the focus of this short piece is on his knack for getting on base. As of right now, Acuña’s on-base percentage of .400 would rank ninth in the majors, just ahead of Mike Trout, who sits at .396. Now, you might say Acuña’s 24-game sample size this season is far too small to determine anything significant, and you’re right. But following his 2019 campaign — his first full season in the majors — we saw a substantial change in Acuña’s plate discipline, and it’s taken his game to the next level.
Since 2020, the Braves’ 24-year-old superstar has played in 151 games (because of the shortened season and torn ACL) and has posted a .399 OBP. That sample size of almost an entire season is enough to paint a picture of just how difficult it is for opponents to get him out, and his plate discipline should only improve with time.
Now, back to Acuña’s pristine record when it comes to stealing bases this season. He was finally caught stealing last night on his 10th attempt, and he was trying to steal home… If you multiply his nine steals over a full 162 games, Acuña is on pace for over 63 stolen bases. That’s absurd, especially for someone coming off a torn ACL.
There are very few people that can affect the game in all phases, and nobody does it better than Ronald Acuña. His power is down right now, but he’s still finding ways to cause chaos every single night. When Mike Trout finally starts to decline — if that ever happens — somebody will have to take the crown as the game’s best player. My money remains on Acuña, even after the torn ACL.
Photo: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire