This morning, ESPN ranked baseball’s top 100 players rightfully headed by none other than Mike Trout. However, a couple of Braves weren’t too far behind, beginning with the youthful phenom himself — Ronald Acuña.
The 22-year-old came in at #8 on the list, behind the likes of former MVPs Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger, and four-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. Acuña moved up 12 spots from #20 following his first full season in the bigs after narrowly missing out on becoming the fifth player in MLB history to join the 40/40 club, finishing three steals shy of the feat. But his sights are set much higher than that this year — his best friend Ozzie Albies said early in spring camp that Acuña is looking to become the first player ever to hit 50 home runs and steal 50 bases. If he does that, not only will he win the NL MVP, but he might also challenge Mike Trout for the top spot on this list next year.
Not too far behind him is the best first baseman in the game, Freddie Freeman, coming in at #17 on the list. The powerful lefty bat moves up one spot from last year after a career season in 2019, smashing 38 homers and driving in 121 runs. Acuña may lead the Braves in star power, but Freeman is the consistent presence and veteran clubhouse leader that every winning team needs.
Next up, as far as Braves are concerned, is Atlanta’s 22-year-old ace, Mike Soroka. As a rookie, he posted a 5.6 bWAR behind a minuscule 2.68 ERA, finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, and sixth in Cy Young voting. The Canadian sinkerball also gave up the least amount of home runs per nine innings at a 0.7/9 rate. Some may believe he’s in store for some regression because he’s not your prototypical high strikeout guy that sits atop a rotation, but his poise and control on the mound are unmatched, which are much more critical to long-term success than punchouts.
Rounding out the Braves on the list is Ozzie Albies, who comes in at #46, so not only did four Braves make the top 100, they were all in the top 46. Last year, Albies was #58 on this list, and as expected, he rose significantly after a marvelous 2019 in which he led the MLB in hits with 189. Of those 189 knocks, 43 of them were doubles, and 24 were home runs, solidifying himself as one of the best second basemen in baseball. Considering the contract extension the Braves signed him to last year worth just $35 million over seven years, he will be looked at as one of the best bargains in baseball for years to come.
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