Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr. is raking in Venezuelan Winter League

Ronald Acuña

Ronald Acuna Jr. put on a show at the Venezuelan home run derby, winning the contest, which resulted in fans storming the field. It’s no surprise he’s mashing down south and having the time of his life — the young man loves this game. So, to all these naysayers and malicious rumors, Ronald Acuna Jr. is just going to play baseball.

Every offseason, Acuna doesn’t fly to Miami, Los Angeles, or any other destination location; he flies home to Venezuela and plays baseball. It’s something everyone should admire. And this year, he’s absolutely raking in the Venezuelan Winter League, even going nuclear in his first at-bat as a designated hitter this offseason.

On the season, RAJ is slashing .478/.539/.739 with a 1.278 OPS. In seven games and 23 plate appearances, he’s posted 11 hits, six runs, six RBIs, and two long balls. A year removed from tearing his ACL, he’s starting to feel like himself again. And to those who say he should be resting instead of risking re-injury: where’s your medical degree, buddy?

I’m not a doctor, so I have no idea what the ideal offseason program for the Acuna would be, but I imagine it’s exactly whatever he’s doing. This is the Atlanta Braves; the club isn’t going to allow him to risk re-injury if there were even any mild concerns.

Still, there’s no denying the injury affected his 2022 campaign. Over his first four seasons, the sensation slashed .281/.376/.550 with 43 homers on a 162-game pace and a .925 OPS. This past year, he slashed .266/.351/.413 with 20 home runs on a 162-game pace, good for a .764 OPS. He was also caught stealing more times than in any other season. With that being said, his numbers in a down year are some players’ career-bests. Moreover, the unusual offseason and lack of team contact due to the MLB lockout likely hindered his performance; just ask Charlie Morton, who also suffered a serious injury and had to rehab away from the team through the lockout.

There’s no telling if Ronald Acuna will return to the MVP-caliber player we saw before the injury, but I’m willing to bet he’ll be damn close this year. He’s a freak athlete and is as competitive as they come. I expect him to be in the conversation for the team’s best player in 2022.

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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