— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 22, 2023
The list of achievements by Acuña is robust and deserving of its separate distinction. He has hit 40 home runs and stolen 68 bases for the first 40-60 season and with two more will set another standard at 40-70.
Preferred attire for the exclusive Club Acuña includes:
- Braves uniform number 13
- Bright yellow shin and elbow guards
- Gold jewelry chains
- A wing-flap dance that suggests the ball has wings
- A disciplined approach that has resulted in a .337 batting average and 1.012 OPS
Membership is quite exclusive.
Number 40 Takes Wing
Acuña, Atlanta’s leadoff hitter and a leading MVP candidate, hit his 40th homer in the Braves’ 9-6 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday at Nationals Park.
By doing so, he joins Jose Canseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996), Alex Rodriguez (1998) and Alfonso Soriano (2006) as the only players to post a 40-40 season. The 46 steals Rodriguez tallied in 1998 had previously stood as the highest total during a 40-homer campaign.
Ronald Acuna Jr. (this season) and Ty Cobb (in 1911) are the only players in MLB history to have 75+ extra-base hits and 60+ stolen bases in the same season.
Both Acuna Jr. and Cobb were born on December 18, 111 years apart (1886 and 1997). pic.twitter.com/ehOiuk4W6n
— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) September 21, 2023
According to OptaSTATS, Acuña (this season) and Hall of Famer Ty Cobb (in 1911) are the only players in MLB history to have 75-plus extra-base hits and 60-plus stolen bases in the same season. Coincidentally, both Acuna Jr. and Cobb were born on December 18, 111 years apart (1886 and 1997).
There Is No K in Acuña (Well, Definitely Fewer)
Acuña’s focused approach in 2023 can be pinpointed in one statistic: strikeouts. In specific, he has vastly reduced his number of strikeouts.
He has whiffed only 80 times, compared to 78 walks, this season. In 2022, he fanned 126 times. That is a reduction from a 25.2 percent rate to 11.2 percent.
The league average for batters is 22.4 percent.
Unsurprisingly, he has totaled 209 hits this season.
Even More Impressive Stats
Acuña reached the 100-RBI plateau against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, becoming just the fourth hitter ever to do so while batting leadoff in the order.
He also became the first player in the majors to record a season with 100 RBI and 60 stolen bases since Hall of Famer Joe Morgan did so for the Cincinnati Reds while winning the second of his consecutive MVP awards in 1976.
A Flair for the Romantic
Throughout the season, his timing has been impeccable. On September 1, hours before becoming the first player in MLB history to hit 30 home runs and steal 60 bases in a single season, Acuña and his fiancée, Maria Laborde, were married in an intimate ceremony at a chapel west of Los Angeles.
Acuña and Laborde were engaged in January but pushed up the date of their wedding due to the terms of Laborde’s visa, which would have required that she and their children return to Venezuela for three months. Acuña didn’t want his family to miss out on the end of the Braves’ magical season, so the couple decided to get married to solve the visa issue.
That night, Acuña hit a grand slam off of Dodgers starter Lance Lynn for his 30th homer of the season. He had already reached the 60-steal threshold earlier in the week.
Main Photo Credits: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports