The Athletic came out with their weekly power rankings, and unsurprisingly, the Braves owned the top spot after another dominant week in which they went undefeated. However, unlike most power rankings, The Athletic also includes a subject to talk about along with the rankings. This week’s was their bold predictions for each team over the second half of the season.
Last Power Ranking: 1
Bold prediction: Ronald Acuña Jr. will do what no one’s done since Rickey Henderson
This is an MVP prediction comparing a current player to one of the all-time greats, which should be incredibly bold, but Acuña’s having such a great season that it’s only kinda bold. You see, no player has won an MVP award while leading the league in OPS and stolen bases since Henderson in 1990. MVPs lead the league in OPS all the time, but in stolen bases? The last MVP to lead in steals alone was Ichiro Suzuki in 2001, but Ichiro wasn’t even top 10 in OPS that season. Mike Trout led the league in steals, finished second in OPS and probably should have won the MVP in 2012, but that was the year Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown. Acuña, though, is currently the NL leader in steals and OPS and WAR, all by a hefty margin. Honestly, it might be a bolder prediction to say he won’t win all three. — Chad Jennings
As Chad Jennings states, I’m not so sure this is even bold. Acuña has been the best player in the National League by a wide margin. If it wasn’t for Luis Arraez’s incredible season in the batting average department, Acuña would have a real shot at the triple crown.
The Braves superstar right fielder is hitting .335 with 21 homers and an OPS over 1.000. He also has swiped 40 bags, putting him on pace to steal nearly 80 this season. Coincidentally, I did a piece on bold predictions for the Braves over the second half of the season as well, and I was much more bold than Jennings. I think Acuña will not only hit 40 homers, but I also think he will steal 80 bases. Nobody has even come close to reaching those numbers, but we’ve also never seen anything like what Ronald Acuña has accomplished through the first half of this season.
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