Braves: Ronald Acuña Jr. on early season struggles

Braves Ronald Acuña

The Braves are 26-16, the exact same record they had after 42 games last year when they went on to win 104 games, but it certainly doesn’t feel the same. Part of that has to do with the red-hot Philadelphia Phillies, who seem to have zero interest in losing a game, bursting out of the gate to a 34-14 record and a five-game lead in the NL East. But part of it also has to do with the Braves’ offense, which was historically great a season ago, looking like they are going through the motions early in the year.

The Braves lineup has not only failed to live up to expectations, but they’ve frankly been one of the worst offenses in the league over the last month.

It doesn’t just feel like the Braves are underachieving. They are quite literally performing like an offense that won 68 games and had Nick Markakis batting cleanup.

The bottom of the order began the season hot but has cooled off considerably over the last month, and the top has never got going, particularly reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. The 26-year-old is hitting just .242 with three homers and a .690 OPS this season. He’s been a below average ballplayer in essentially every aspect, and he acknowledged as much following Sunday’s blowout loss to the Padres.

“I don’t know if it’s timing [of the swing] or not,” Acuña said, via Mark Boman of “But right now, I’m not that good.”

Part of Acuña’s early season timing issues could have been attributed to his lack of action in Spring Training due to some irritation in his knee. However, June is quickly approaching, and the results have only gotten worse over the last month. Since April 26th (18 games), Acuña is hitting just .196 with three extra-base hits and a .576 OPS.

“I’m not sure what to tell you; it feels like I’m missing everything right now,” Acuña said, via Mark Bowman of “But I’m confident it will get turned around and there will be good things ahead.”

The Braves offensive struggles are only part of the issue as well. Acuña was picked off three times in 10 innings last week, and yesterday, he dropped a can of corn in right field.

Betting against Ronald Acuña Jr. and the rest of this Braves lineup is a dangerous game. There is a track record of lengthy success for all of these guys that suggests a reign of terror is on the horizon for every poor soul that dares to toe the rubber on the opposite side. But to this point, everyone seems a little puzzled at just how much the offense has floundered over the last month, and if they don’t pick it up soon, the Phillies could run away and hide with the division.

Photo: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire

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