Braves: Ronald Acuña will be just fine

Acuna's slump

The Braves gave Ronald Acuña the day off on Wednesday, and I don’t think anybody can blame Brian Snitker’s decision, given Acuña’s recent results at the plate.

It’s undoubtedly been the roughest slump of Acuña’s young career. However, there’s no reason to believe this will continue for long. Ronald Acuña Jr. will be perfectly fine. He’ll be better than fine. Let’s put this recent stretch into perspective. 

Injuries

People seem to forget that around this time last year, Acuña suffered a brutal ACL tear. Whether you’re a world class athlete or not, an ACL tear is not an injury that can just be brushed over. It is something that takes time to fully recover from. But beyond just the ACL, Acuña has dealt with a multitude of seemingly endless ailments since returning to the field. It’s no shock that he hasn’t been able to find a rhythm. 

Luck

Acuña’s .214/.327/.612 slash line (with only one long ball) in the last 28 days is unsightly. However, the underlying metrics show that despite the lack of visible success, the 24-year-old has been mashing. Acuña has been obliterating baseballs right at defenders. Seemingly every game, he has a hard-hit line drive out or a warning track flyout. As he starts to fully recover from his injuries, more of those deep flyouts will leave the ballpark. Acuña’s 90th percentile HardHit% on Baseball Savant points to how well he’s been hitting, and his other peripherals suggest positive regression will eventually come in a big way. 

Umpires

With last night still fresh in our minds, can we just appreciate how atrocious some of these calls against Acuña have been? I’m not even going to say anything else about it:

Ground Balls

If there’s one thing that sticks out about this season, it’s Ronald’s ground ball rate. 47.8 percent of the balls in play by the superstar are on the ground. That’s not a recipe for success, but it’s also something that will regress towards his career averages eventually. There are worse problems to have, particularly a high strikeout rate. At least Acuña is putting the ball in play, and doing so with a high exit velocity.

Closing

Stop the criticism of Ronald Acuña. Baseball is a game of peaks and valleys, and he’s just in one of those valleys. That doesn’t change the fact that he is a generational talent. I understand that he’s set the expectations high, but there needs to be a level of grace for every ballplayer — even Acuña is allowed to slump. 

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

 

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