Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr. says he’s back at MVP-caliber level

Braves FanGraphs Acuna

The Braves haven’t had their best player since the middle of the 2021 season. Ronald Acuna Jr. is arguably the most exciting player in baseball when he’s right, but an ACL injury has kept that version of him away from us… until now. The Venezuelan superstar told reporters at Braves Fan Fest that he feels like his 2019 self and believes he can play at an MVP-caliber level.

Members of the Braves organization expect Acuna to be closer to his pre-injury self in 2023, and MLB.com predicts he’ll take home the MVP award for the upcoming season.

Acuna slashed .266/.351/.413 with 15 bombs and 24 doubles in his first season back after tearing his ACL, which is a far cry from his 2019 numbers — .281/.376/.550 and flirted with 40 home runs and 40 stolen bags. What’s even crazier is Acuna was well on his way to an MVP before the injury, posting a .990 OPS, 52 RBIs, and 24 home runs in about half a season.

During that magical 2021 campaign, Ronald Acuna was actually on pace for an 8+ WAR season — about four times what he contributed last year. His .764 OPS from 2022 was the lowest of his career by a large margin. He averaged a .925 OPS per season before the injury, with his lowest mark coming in 2019, more than 100 points higher than his 2022 OPS.

FanGraphs projects a .270/.367/.487 slash line with 31 home runs and 34 steals, accruing 5.4 WAR, which would be more than double what he contributed in 2022. Those are a bit down on his career marks, and I expect him to eclipse all of those projections.

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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