Despite battling injuries through much of his young career, outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. is extremely talented. In every season except for the shortened 2020 campaign, the Braves phenom has hit at least 10 homers and swiped at least 10 bases.
Acuña is a true five-tool player, and it looks like he’s finally 100% healthy after tearing an ACL in 2021 and fighting through injuries last season. The past few weeks have been a showcase of that talent.
While it was evident the 25-year-old struggled with power last season, hitting only 15 homers in 120 games, he’s alleviated those concerns. Every single one of Acuña’s last seven home runs has traveled over 420 ft., and five of those have been over 440 ft.
Acuña is chasing history—in more ways than one. 2019 almost saw him become the fifth member of the 40 home runs, 40 steals club, but he fell three steals short of the milestone. This year, he’s on pace for a historic season, and speed isn’t what’s holding him back.
After the distance from first to second was shortened this offseason, Acuña and the Braves have taken full advantage, with Acuña’s 17 steals leading the National League. His combination of power, speed and defense has him on track for another milestone.
If the superstar continues at this pace, he would join a prestigious list of all-time greats. All of the players on the list, minus Barry Bonds, are in the Hall of Fame. Although the injury bug has followed Acuña, his current success looks sustainable.
The three-time All-Star has an average exit velocity of 94.6 mph, which is in the top 2% in the league, according to Baseball Savant. Additionally, his arm strength is some of the best in the league, and the stats show another promising sign.
For much of his career up to this point, Acuña has been a free swinger. It’s easy to ignore, considering he’s such a great hitter in many other ways. However, even that part of his game has improved. Acuña’s strikeout and whiff percentage, which have always been below average, are now both in the top 30% of MLB.
There has been a significant change to Acuña’s game, from the rule change boosting steals to recovery from injury and heightened plate discipline. Overall, he looks to be a perennial NL MVP finalist and one of the top players in the league for years to come.
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