The Braves have a roster that has many believing the club is the favorite to make it out of the National League. They are littered with top-end talent in all three phrases and have established themselves as the class of the division over the last five years. However, the NL East has become the toughest in all of baseball. The Mets and Phillies didn’t sit on their hands this offseason, spending over half-a-billion dollars combined. The Braves have a target on their back, but base-running coach Eric Young Sr. believes the result will be the same.
Young was asked about the expectations for Ronald Acuna Jr as he moves further away from the torn ACL he suffered during the 2021 campaign. Like so many others, he believes Acuna is in for a potentially historic season.
“I think Ronald is going to come back to the 2019 numbers,” Young said, via The Athletic. “That’s what I think. Ronald looks very good. So 40-40 is a strong possibility. And I think he’ll hit close to .300. And if he does all that, you know what you guys are going to be talking about at the end of the year for Ronald Acuña Jr? MVP. That’s what.”
However, this article from David O’Brien of The Athletic wasn’t strictly about Acuna. Eric Young believes the Braves have three potential candidates to join the 40-40 club — Acuna, Ozzie Albies, and Michael Harris II.
The new rules will undoubtedly give base stealers the opportunity to swipe bags at an alarming rate. Pitchers are only allowed to throw over a couple of times, and baserunners will easily be able to time their jumps as the pitch clock runs down. Not to mention, the larger bases also means the distance between bases is slightly shorter, and players should have a much less difficult time staying on the bag when sliding.
The Braves are in a prime position to take advantage of the new rules on the bases. Ronald Acuna already appeared to have the green light to go at any time. That’s not going to change, and Harris proved to be arguably the most accurate base stealer in the game last year. He was caught stealing just twice in 22 attempts. Add a healthy Albies into the mix, and the Braves very well may lead the league in stolen bases this season.
Combine that ability on the bases with the power this lineup possesses, and Young sees more champagne in the Braves future.
“If we have that, then guess what?” Young said, via The Athletic. “Guess what the Braves are going to be doing at the end of this year? Spraying champagne. That’s what.”
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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