Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr. leads all position players in WAR

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There were a lot of offseason assumptions that the Ronald Acuna Jr. we saw pre-injury would return in 2023 after a worrisome 2022 season in which he often talked about how he couldn’t play at 100% because of pain in his knee. Many, including myself, were hopeful a full healthy offseason would do him wonders, and so far, the results are painting a picture of something special.

Acuna looks like himself again. He’s making highlight-reel plays in the field, stealing bases, and hitting better than he ever has before. Through 16 games, he boasts a .373 batting average, .455 on-base percentage, and 1.022 OPS. He’s mashed three homers and has seven stolen bases. Acuna is also striking out way less than he ever has before (15.6%) while maintaining a high walk rate of 11.7%. It’s not hyperbole to say he’s been the best player in baseball this season. Acuna leads all position players in fWAR with 1.2 and trails only Gerrit Cole overall, who has accrued 1.3 fWAR.

WAR isn’t a perfect stat, but FanGraphs does a pretty damn good job of encapsulating just how valuable players are to their respective teams, and I don’t think any Braves fan would argue with their conclusion regarding Ronald Acuna Jr.

Admittedly, I may have even underestimated how massive of an effect Acuna would have on this team. Having him looking like himself again is a boost I wasn’t even expecting. His improvement alone from last season is enough to add 5-7 more wins to a team that managed to win 101 games last year. Acuna is the class of the National League, and he likely will win the NL MVP if he’s able to stay healthy for 162 games.

Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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